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Hollywood Silencer

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"In movies, when 'silenced' guns are fired, they always make the same sound, resembling a cat sneeze."
Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary

In Hollywood, a silencer is depicted as black cylindrical device that screws to the end of any gun, from a tiny pistol to a massive 50 caliber sniper rifle, and reduces the bang to a soft "fwip" that nobody will hear. This sound is an example of The Coconut Effect.

Basically, silencers control the discharge of gases that occur when a bullet is fired, which produce much of the sound. It's the Rule of Cool: Hollywood wants to depict a stealthy assassin or suave superspy make his hit in a public place, then melt into the night with nary a sound.

The idea of the Hollywood Silencer is so prevalent that real silencers were commercially rebranded as "suppressors" in the 1970s to cash in on Hand Cannon owners who wanted Rule of Cool but might become litigious when their "silenced" pistol still made an ear-shattering kaboom.

Additionally, for silencers to work properly, the bullets must travel at a subsonic speed, which can make them less accurate or deadly. Take note of how suppressors affect your gun in most video games.

Spotting a silenced revolver is almost always a definite sign that the work is not gunning for realism. A typical revolver has a small gap between the firing chamber and the barrel, and the sound can get out through the gap as well as from the muzzle. A few revolvers like the Nagant Model 1895 can be suppressed because they are designed to seal the cylinder gap when firing, but with most revolvers, a silencer simply doesn't help.

"Real" silencers as used by governmental agencies do indeed muffle the sound of a gunshot to the same degree as seen in films and television, but these are custom designed weapons rather than aftermarket add-ons. In addition, they're still not exactly silent, sounding like a loud cough or "pfft".

Please see Useful Notes On Silencers for more on how they actually do work.

See also Pillow Silencer, when pillows are used in this fashion in an improvised way.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon during a flashback to Revy's childhood she's shown killing a man eventually revealed to be her own father using a pillow to suppress the sound. Subverted in that we don't actually hear the sound so can't judge how well it worked.
    • In the same arc a special forces group ambush cartel members with silenced M4 rifles. The effect is more like a quiet buzzsaw than the usual fwip.
  • Case Closed:
    • Played completely straight when a silencer (and a scarf covering the muzzle flash) lets Pisco fire a gun in a crowded room to bring down a chandelier on his victim without drawing any attention to himself.
    • In one case, the murderer covered up the sound of gunfire by firing the silenced gun at the same time as party poppers were being set off for a party. Considering someone a floor away from the party but literally an arm's length away from the gun completely failed to notice it, it would still have to be pretty damn quiet.
  • Gunslinger Girl. In the manga when terrorists attack the New Turin Nuclear Plant they use silenced assault rifles, and the suspicions of a gatehouse guard are only aroused by the sound of the bullets breaking a computer screen.
  • Gunsmith Cats:
    • Used straight in the anime, as a rare exception to otherwise showing their work with recordings of the exact weapons shown. Rather excusable, as the gun in question was the extremely rare Welrod, not something the range they used could have rented them. And the Welrod is one of quietest firearms ever made.
    • Subverted in Gunsmith Cats: Burst when Misty customizes a Python revolver to accept a suppressor, only to be chewed out by Rally because, with the weapon being a revolver, the suppressor has no effect.
  • Averted in Highschool of the Dead. Hirano hands Saya an MP5, warning her that even with a suppressor, any shots will still be audible enough to be heard by them.
  • Averted in Noir, which took actual audio from the guns used and doesn't completely diminish the sound when a silencer is fitted. If anything the sound of the silenced guns is more like a "pew" than a "bang" and it's still fairly loud.

    Audio Plays 
  • The silenced pistol in We're Alive has the "fwip" sound.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman story The Long Halloween, the main assassin uses the teats from baby bottles as one-shot silencers. This is apparently somewhat effective with small, low-powered rounds in Real Life.
  • In The Losers, an evil character comments on how badly silencers throw off your aim.

    Fan Works 
  • Subverted and discussed in the Heroes of the Storm fanfic Heroes of the Desk. Nova does not have a silencer for her weapon, Hollywood-style or realistic. Even if she did, she notes it would still be pretty obvious so she needs some auditory cover (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • In A Sad Story, Uncle Vernon uses one on his shotgun. These actually exist, but they serve only to reduce the report of the weapon just enough to eliminate the need for hearing protection; it's clearly audible and identifiable as a gunshot from at least a hundred yards away.
  • SCP: Overlord: Averted. The suppressors on the team's rifles muffle the sounds of gunshots realistically.

    Film — Animation 
  • Batman: The Long Halloween. The Holiday Killer uses an untraceable pistol with the nipple from a baby bottle over the muzzle a silencer. This doesn't appear to affect the noise much when firing multiple shots, even though the first shot would break the nipple. The choice of silencer is a clue to the killer's motive, however.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Played perfectly straight in the dirty cop action film 16 Blocks, where a hired hitman in the beginning tries to kill the witness with a silencer that is especially soft and quiet.
  • In The A-Team, an incompetent CIA agent attempts to clumsily put one on his gun while his target complains about him calling it a "European silencer" when it is in fact called a suppressor.
  • At several points in the film version of Black Sunday, characters use silenced revolvers. Most noticeable when Kabakov interrogates Muzi.
  • The Boondock Saints have silencers that make a small "fwip" sound, though they are mainly used to keep others from discovering their activities, not for the element of surprise.
  • Con Air - When Nicolas Cage's character stumbles on a betrayal plot, he tells a would-be gunman that if he fires his weapon, others would hear the shot come and investigate. The other man wordlessly replies by attaching a silencer to his pistol, to which Cage delivers the classic line: "Well hoo-ray for the sounds of fucking silence!"
  • The barkeeper in Desperado has a silencer on his revolver that is obviously not even compatible with the weapon. Subverted in that it doesn't actually work.
  • Subverted in Doomsday: The suppressed rifles and silenced pistols make a fairly loud bang, but the main character's unsilenced pistol makes a really loud bang.
  • Parodied in Fatal Instinct. When Max Shady test fires his silencer-equipped weapon in the train it makes a soft "fwip" as usual. He adjusts the silencer to "softer" and fires it again: this time it makes no noise at all.
  • The Steven Seagal movie Fire Down Below; his character uses a two-liter soda bottle as a silencer.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Ghost Dog has a plethora of silenced guns which fire with the traditional fwip.
  • The pistols used by the heroes in The Guns of Navarone use silencers that make the gunshots sound closer to a champagne cork popping. Still somewhat loud, but softer than a non-suppressed pistol.
  • Played straight in High Risk, when terrorists infiltrating a hotel kills a guard with a silenced pistol, whose shots sounds like a loud fart. The second guard in the guardhouse barely five meters away doesn't hear a thing before he too gets killed.
  • Inception. Cobb's silenced pistol does indeed make the "fwip" sound, but he's only seen using it in the dream world so it can be assumed that Cobb simply imagined the Hollywood-esque one. Also subverted in that when he fires it, he positions his other hand so it catches the ejected shell casing before it hits the floor, then he quickly grabs the falling body of the person he shot and gently lowers them to the floor too.
  • James Bond:
    • In GoldenEye 's pre-credits sequence, agent 006 Alec Trevelyan dispatches a lab technician with his silenced pistol and later uses it to shoot the first two Soviet troops that respond to the alarm in the gas tank room (the rest he blows away with an AK-47 he takes off one of the first two troops). Each time his gun makes an innocuous "pyoot" sound. The same noise is also made by Bond's little grappling hook gun he uses during the bungee jump off the dam.
    • Yet another Bond aversion in Tomorrow Never Dies: On the stealth ship, Bond's suppressed Walther P99 sounds probably just a little less loud then it would without the suppressor.
  • In the spy movie The Jigsaw Man (1983), Michael Caine's character sees a van parked with its rear doors open. Suddenly Caine staggers from a bullet wound, apparently inflicted by a silenced gun fired noiselessly from inside the van.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 has John Wick himself and Cassian using silencers so powerful they can have a gunfight with their guns hidden, with bullets bouncing off the walls, while casually walking through a crowded subway station and no one else notices there's a gunfight going on right next to them.
  • Parodied in the Polish comedy Kiler, where all gangsters participating in a parking shootout use Hollywood Silencers and the TV reporters filming the scene from a distance comment that they will have to mix in gunfire sounds to make the scene more realistic.
  • Played to the extreme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where in one scene a bad guy has a silenced pistol that makes no gunshot noise at all. Not even 'fwip'! The only noise is that of the ejected cartridge hitting the floor - a sound effect that is normally missing in Hollywood movies.
  • A variation in Layer Cake, where a pillow is used to silence a headshot.
  • Lethal Weapon 2 has two instances of the bad guys doing this. The first time involving the secondary antagonist taking out one of his own incompetent subordinates is played a little more realistically as it makes a somewhat loud bang despite the popular sound effect. The second time involving an assassination of Leo Getz is played straight, on the other hand.
  • In the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force, a motorcycle cop killed a mob boss and another motorcycle cop using a silenced revolver. The silencer appears to be a length of tube with a slit cut out and is held on by friction alone.
  • The 1962 adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate: "Is that a silencer?" Yes, and it's on a revolver.
  • In The Man with One Red Shoe, two competing teams of agents use these in Drew's apartment.
  • Mc Q. The opening murders of two policeman are committed with a .45 with a ridiculously short silencer. Later a witness is murdered with a silenced revolver. Only the silenced MAC-10 sounds right, but as the Military Armaments Corporation was using this movie to showcase the weapon it's not surprising.
  • No Country for Old Men. Psycho for Hire Anton Chigurh uses a silenced shotgun that's apparently quiet enough to fire in a small town, at night, with no one coming to investigate. When he shoots it at some cartel goons in a motel Moss can’t hear it despite being in an adjacent room. Later on when he shoots a hotel clerk it can be heard from Moss’s room some distance away, but you have to be listening for it.
  • Payback uses the pillow version of this with a revolver.
  • Parodied in The Film of the Book A Scanner Darkly when Barris creates a homemade silencer. When tested, it explodes, amplifying the sound considerably and partially deafening Barris.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), visitors to 221b Baker Street are startled by the sound of repeated gunshots. It turns out that Holmes is trying to create a silencer for his Nagant M1895 revolver (see below), and failing miserably.
  • The sniper in the movie Shooter uses a bottle as a makeshift silencer for his rifle. The bottle itself is stuffed with material to help muffle the sound, so the plastic bottle isn't doing the silencing, but rather the combination of paper, tissues, and possibly aluminum and/or water inside the bottle. Also, the rifle in question is firing .22 Long Rifle, which is fairly quiet to begin with — more of a loud pop than a boom, and quiet enough on their own that it's possible (but not recommended) to shoot without hearing protection. It's still a Hollywood Silencer, because the sound would be muffled, but not complete silenced, and especially if the bottle was filled with something to aid in suppressing it, that would affect its range as well.
  • The opening of The Siege has the kidnapping of a terrorist leader. A herd of goats are driven across the road in front of a limousine, making it stop. We hear the faint sound of a silenced automatic weapon firing over the jangling of goat bells, then the camera pans to show the bullet-riddled car and the terrorist being dragged away by US special forces.
  • Soylent Green: Charlton Heston's character gets chased by some Mooks packing short-barreled revolvers fitted with silencers. It's handled surprisingly realistically; they emit a sort of dull, booming thump that's far from quiet, but which wouldn't be readily identifiable as gunfire at a distance.
  • Talbot from Special Forces prefers using a silenced pistol as his weapon, which he uses effectively in various infiltration missions without alerting any nearby guards. Becomes a hilarious case of Hollywood Tactics, however, when he continues using it in large-scale shootouts, despite Talbot's partner, Bear, using shotguns and explosives in every scene (thereby negating the silencing function in the first place!).
  • In Spy Hard, the trope is parodied: baddies use a pillow to silence the noise of the machine gun used to execute prisoners, who were mimes that "refused" to talk.
  • The otherwise brilliant movie The Sting features the "silenced revolver" mistake.
  • Sword Of Gideon (1986). The Mossad assassination team uses .22 Beretta's with underpowered cartridges which only make a fumph! sound, lampshaded when their instructor teaches the importance of the Double Tap. "Always twice — Fumph-fumph never goddamn fumph!"
  • The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe:
    • This 1972 French comedy features several government spies with silenced guns that, when fired, emitted only a puff of smoke with no sound at all.
    • In the sequel The Return of the Tall Blond Man, the killers sent after François have guns and a sniper rifle that emit sounds akin to plastic pipes hitting something, not unlike the guns in Les Tontons Flingueurs.
  • Parodied in Les Tontons flingueurs, a 1963 French movie. There is a gunfight scene, involving at least half a dozen people, each one wielding a silenced gun making a different sound, including one of a bottle being uncorked. (the scene) Georges Lautner reused the same gag the next year in his spy comedy Les Barbouzes.
  • Subverted in the Seagal movie Under Siege - Krill shoots the captain with a Hollywood silenced pistol; however, the guard stationed outside the room immediately runs in.
  • In the Hong Kong film Yes, Madam, an assassin kills a target in a hotel, from point-blank range, by using an apple shoved into his mouth as a silencer.

  • Towards the end of Atlas Shrugged, the protagonists infiltrate the State Science Institute to rescue John Galt. They are all equipped with guns which are silenced to the point of not making any sound at all when fired. Not even a single fwip. Then again, the protagonists are a community of "geniuses" that owns all sorts of physically impossible technology, including an entropy reversing motor.
  • The towel-as-silencer trick also appears in the Bernard Samson Series by Len Deighton. Someone borrows a revolver from Bernard, then returns it wrapped up in a towel. Which has bullet holes and powder burns in it.
  • Billy Summers: Discussed; Billy lampshades how, in a movie, a sniper tasked with an assigment like his would probably use a silencer to hide his position. However, Billy knows that in real life the bullet breaking through the sound barrier would still cause a loud sound that no silencer can prevent, and even if it could, Billy doesn't like using silencers since he wants to keep the tip of his rifle clear of any add-ons that could potentially ruin his shot.
  • The espionage novel by David Morrell, Brotherhood of the Rose has the protagonists using the 'Mossad homemade silencer'' designed to be constructed from innocuous materials like washers and glassfibers, assembled for the kill, then broken up and thrown away.
  • In The Chase, a 19th century bank robber doesn't just silence a revolver- he silences it by wrapping a scarf around the muzzle.
  • In Changes when someone attempts to assassinate Harry from a passing car. The gunshot sounds are so muffled that, because Harry's duster saves him, no one else even realizes he was being shot at.
  • Averted in Death Masks when a thug tries to murder someone with a suppressor. The sound is described as "maybe as loud as someone slamming an unabridged dictionary down on a table" rather than the "splitting the air with thunder" noise that guns without silencers make.
  • In one Encyclopedia Brown story, the title character recommends that one his friends use a silencer for his gun in a school play so that he won't have to yell "Bang Bang!".
  • The Godfather II - A young Don Corleone commits his first murder with a revolver wrapped up in a towel to muffle the sound. The towel realistically catches fire due to the muzzle flash.
  • A Hymn Before Battle - In a fairly rare slip-up regarding firearms, author John Ringo has an assassin using a silenced Colt .45, with the sound of the shots described as "four rapid huffs", with no one reacting until the targeted people fall into the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument. Possibly justified in that the assassin was working for the Darhel, who could have just engineered a better silencer for the occassion .
  • In the first Jumper sequel, Reflex, a silenced pistol shot was described as being similar to someone stepping on a dry twig.
  • In The Professional Killers by J.T. Edson, one of the killers uses a silenced revolver. This is an odd slip-up from Edson who was usually meticulous in his firearms research.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Empty House" features an air rifle that can silently fire a revolver slug and is wielded with deadly accuracy by the story's antagonist Colonel Sebastian Moran.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Andromeda Breakthrough, the assassin for Intel uses a .25 Beretta with a miniscule silencer that makes so little sound it can be covered by a camera flash.
  • Exaggerated in the At Last the 1948 Show sketch "Burglar Hides in the Library". When burglar Wilkins is cornered by three policemen in a library, he draws a gun on them, but as they have been repeatedly shushed by the librarian and the other library patrons, he first screws a silencer onto the barrel. When he fires the gun, it makes no noise at all. The policemen have to spend a few seconds determining which of them has been shot.
  • In Better Off Ted, Veronica keeps a silenced pistol in her office for stress relief that when fired makes a light *Thwip* sound. It is implied that she does this frequently without anyone noticing.
  • Subverted in the season three finale of Breaking Bad, where Mike uses a gun with a silencer to murder several cartel members selling meth on Gus's territory without permission. Only… the gun is far from silent.
    • Though a lack of a gun blast is played straight, the casings hitting the wall/floor and the operation of the pistol are clearly heard.
  • Columbo: In "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case", the killer uses a silenced revolver to kill the Victim of the Week. The shots are quiet enough that a house full of witnesses downstairs cannot hear them, and he later uses squibs to fake the sound of gunshots to make it appear the murder had occurred later than it had.
    • Candidate for Crime" features a silenced revolver. And it was a crucial plot point as well, since the bad guy used his silenced revolver to get off a shot without anyone hearing, then later used a firecracker to trick witnesses into thinking the shot came at a later time.
    • Ditto for Now You See Him... The Great Santini shoots Jesse Jerome in the upstairs office of The Magic Cabaret with pretty packed seats with a silenced revolver.
  • CSI
    • An episode featured a coke bottle silencer. Another had a potato silencer. While neither would work for more than a few shots, the Coke bottle would be more effective after the first, having a much greater surface-to-volume ratio.
      • The potato was used for two gunshots, and it worked. Not because it actually silenced the shot, but because the target is deaf.
  • An episode of CSI: NY had a teddy bear used as a silencer for a large Desert Eagle pistol.
  • In Death in Paradise, a near-perfect murder plot revolves around the guests of a pool party being unable to hear a suppressed handgun shot inside the house.
    • The solution to "Now You See Him, Now You Don't" involves the use of a silenced gun. However, the weapon depicted is a revolver.
  • Get Smart:
    • An episode features a villain using a silencer on a cannon.
    • In another episode Smart had to make a call on his Shoe Phone during a gun battle, but the operator could not work because his gun was too loud, forcing him to install his silencer.
    • More prosaically (and not for comedic purposes), "silenced revolvers" are used frequently on the show.
  • An episode of The Green Hornet called "The Silent Gun" featured...a silent gun. When fired, the gun made practically no noise. It's explained in the story that the pistol was an experimental wartime model, fired very small caliber rounds, and was only effective at close range.
  • The first season of JAG had these in several episodes, including "Brig Break" and "Hemlock".
  • Law & Order: An episode had an improvised silencer made by taping an empty two liter of soda to the front of a pistol. No one in the building was able to hear the gun shots.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Murder By Magic", one of the victims is shot with a revolver that is later stated to have had a sound suppressor on it to explain why no one heard the shot.
  • Monk also uses the "kills with a silenced gun, tricks people with a firecracker later" plot in Mr. Monk Is Underwater. In this case, the silencer is an empty soda bottle over the end of the barrel, which would be highly ineffective - especially in a very small room, and especially on a submarine, known for having lots of tightly enclosed spaces.
  • MythBusters tested the Hollywood silencer, and found that while it didn't make the classic film "thwip" sound, they did lower the volume considerably, into more of a thud of similar volume, and declared it "Plausible."
  • In NCIS: New Orleans, a silencer made from a 2-liter soda bottle and rags is used to silence a pistol. The noise does not wake the woman sleeping the in same room as the victim, but she was at a frat party and so was likely drunk. The party itself was loud and so would also have served to mask the sound outside the room.
  • Silenced pistols in Person of Interest make the standard soft *Fwip!* sound. In one episode, a character uses a Welrod pistol, which is almost silent when used.
  • In possibly one of the worst offenses ever, during the second season of Prison Break, an assassin from The Company is sent after Lincoln Burrows and his family. The assassin breaks in and shoots one of Lincoln's father's bodyguards with a silenced pistol. No one could hear the gunshot (or the body hitting the floor), but apparently Lincoln's ears are so good that he could hear the shell hitting the floor from the other side of the (huge) house instead of the gunshot.
  • Inverted on Sledge Hammer!, where the title character uses a loudener in one episode. As if his .44 Magnum wasn't loud enough already. Amusingly enough, devices that increase the loudness, or at least direct more of the sound back at the user, do exist; they're called "muzzle brakes," and their main purpose is to reduce recoil by redirecting the muzzle flash upwards or backwards or some other direction that runs counter to the regular recoil impulse.
  • The second season finale of Sons of Anarchy employs this when Jax shoots A.J. Weston in the tattoo parlor.
  • Several episodes of Sons of Guns featured the crew making suppressors for a variety of different guns, including a 12 gauge Saiga semi-auto shotgun and a .50 cal rifle. All of them completely debunk the "Hollywood Silencer" myth. Also, these actual gunsmiths are quite satisfied with final numbers in the 130 db range. They'll still make your ears ring, they just won't immediately and permanently damage your hearing.
  • The third season of The Walking Dead (2010) gives several characters homemade suppressors constructed from flashlights and baseball bats. The shows makes them seem pretty effective. For instance, Carl's baseball bat suppressor completely silences his weapon, and it looks awesome too.
  • Even though it abandons many other ridiculous tropes in favour of realism; The Wire chooses to play this straight with Chris and Snoop.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "Death in Disguise", assassins are sent to kill Diana Prince using silenced guns. They even make the classic twip, twip sound.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Pyramid article about weird weapons featured the Denton silencer, invented in the Deadlands by a Mad Scientist plagued with visions of future devices he attempted to replicate with 19th century tech and Deadlands arcana. The Denton silencer looks like a modern silencer, but will fit any gun, and can silence revolvers and even machine guns (although increased rates of fire make it more likely it will go wrong, deafening the user). This is because it actually creates an area of magical silence that affects any noise made by the user. (And then, once it's "full", it explodes. Never trust Deadlands Magitek.)
  • Called a cinematic silencer in GURPS: High-Tech; they're three times as effective as the real versions.
  • The Technocracy in Mage: The Ascension have magical versions of these, which work, not by muffling the sound of the gunshot, but instead by teleporting the sound somewhere else (usually a dangerous part of town where no one cares). The rules specifically note that these devices are considered "coincidental" magic (meaning they can be used without penalty in front of Muggles), because people expect silencers to work better than they really do.
  • Shadowrun has silencers, but notes that subsonic ammunition is necessary to make them really effective (else the sonic boom will alert someone). It also doesn't allow silencers to be used with revolvers aside from a few specific models of revolver noted as having been explicitly designed for it.
  • Unknown Armies specifically notes that ordinary silencers don't work as well as people think, then explains that agents of The New Inquisition use custom-built pistols nicknamed "Hush Puppies" for improved sound suppression; the custom guns are described as being not much louder than a finger snap.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Played with, given that one of the options in some Space Marine armies is to turn a boltgun into a sniper equivalent partly by extending the barrel and stock but mostly by the dint of using special "Stalker" ammunition which is gas propelled rather than the standard rocket propelled rounds, and has a "solidified mercury slug" to punch through the target rather than having a mass-reactive warhead tip. The gun modifications make the gun capable of longer ranges, but the switch in ammunition to one that doesn't ignite a rocket engine behind the bullet just after firing is what silences the gun.
    • Inverted by orks, who will attach "loudeners" to their guns so they make even MORE noise make More Dakka and so (in their view) make them better. The game rules do indeed make such weapons better at suppressive fire.

  • Within the Law by Bayard Veiller features a revolver that can fire absolutely noiselessly, using smokeless powder and a Maxim silencer. Probably the Trope Maker for silenced revolvers, though this one is explained to be a specially made weapon.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura did it realistically. There is exactly one silenced firearm in the game and it is soundless, but that firearm is a custom-made, purpose-built gun with an integrated silencer.
  • Played straight in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – the two silenced semi-auto sniper rifles are completely silent, even if an enemy player is right next to you, and you fire past them, they can't tell where it is coming from until you hit them. The silencers on the submachine guns are fwippy, too. The gunshot sounds in that game are generally pretty accurate with echo and resonance, too.
    • Taken to parodying lengths with the DICE-only weapons in Battlefield 3. One of them is a .44 Magnum – a revolver, mind – with a silencer that actually works.
  • Zigzagged in the Call of Duty games that allow you to attach suppressors to weapons; all silenced guns make the typical quiet "Fwip" sound which enemy NPCs in singleplayer will dutifully ignore, though they will still notice if the bullet impacts an object near them, hits them nonfatally, or takes out one of their allies within their field of vision. The shots are still clearly audible to a human player in multiplayer so long as all the other guns and explosions don't drown it out, however; the only concrete advantage to putting a suppressor on a weapon there is that you won't appear on the enemy's minimap when firing it, though the weapon's damage at range is also reduced.
    • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, three weapons do appear on the radar in multiplayer even with a suppressor (the M9, MG4, and M240). However, this is due to either a glitch or the programmers missing the issue (other similar issues exist, such as the Desert Eagle's sights not lining up correctly, or the F2000's unique Red Dot Sight not being shut down by an EMP), not an intended feature.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops II features an enormous revolver that fires 28 gauge shotgun shells – and despite both of those things, you can attach a suppressor to it. Why you'd want to in a series that embodies Short-Range Shotgun so well that you have to shove its barrel down a guy's throat to kill them in one shot with it, even without the suppressor, is a different question.
    • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) you can even screw oil filters onto the end of a gun, which diminishes the noise enough to not arouse any suspicion just as well as an actual suppressor. Oil filters can actually work as improvised suppressors, but as with the effectiveness of regular ones the game wildly exaggerates their abilities - even if they will fit onto the threading of your gun's barrel, they're not designed to take that kind of pressure and will blow out after a handful of shots, plus their sheer size means that they completely block the ironsights (you're only able to effectively aim them in-game by also putting on a red dot sight).
  • While the silenced pistol in Command & Conquer: Renegade has a Hollywood-style "fwip" sound, it does not prevent enemies from noticing younote . Rather jarring, considering the gun is described as having specialized ammunition for stealth purposes.
  • CounterSpy plays this straight with the Diplomatic Pistol. So long as guards don't see their friends dying, the target doesn't survive the shot and nobody can see you, consider yourself completely hidden.
  • Counter-Strike downplays this. Silenced guns make the fwip sound, but are still very loud. Silencers are only used to mask the direction from where the gun was fired.
  • Subverted in Crysis, where enemies can tell when you're shooting with silenced weapons but will have a harder time locating you. The tradeoff is that the bullets have massive damage falloff, to the point where soldiers will become more or less invulnerable against silenced rounds past a certain distance.
  • Played straight in Crysis 2 where a silencer can reduce the sound of a large pistol to a tiny click. Enemies are still alerted by this sound, though; the main benefit comes from not breaking out of stealth mode. Amusingly, the silencer works just as well when placed at the end of the shotgun.
  • Hitman's Russian World War II cousin Death to Spies features silenced Nagant revolvers extensively, all of them producing a muffled sound similar to "fwip", but reasonably loud. It can alert nearby guards, especially on higher difficulty settings. Silenced rifles in the game are generally more guilty of this trope. For the silenced Nagant revolver, take a look at the Real Life section.
  • Adding a suppressor to a firearm in Fallout 4 turns the sound of a gunshot into a little "Ptchoo." This happens even if the weapon has a vented barrel modification, which would allow the supersonic gasses to exit the barrel before getting to the suppressor.
  • Enemy Front grants you a silenced submachine-gun in a night infiltration stage. Where you stealthily gun down krauts left and right without raising any alarms (as long as your not spotted).
  • Played straight in Expert with the silencer you obtain late in-game. It turns your pistol shots into soft farts allowing you to take down enemies without being heard.
  • Fallout: New Vegas plays this trope straight with one exception—the Anti-Materiel Rifle variant added in the Gun Runners Arsenal DLC can be suppressed (essentially) but not silenced. Since, after all, it is a .50-caliber sniper rifle which is referred to as a cannon by more than one NPC. The effect is distance-based, as in firing it in someone's ear is quite different from firing it at the limit of the draw distance.
  • Far Cry 2 has three silenced weapons, one per slot - the primary Silenced MP5, the secondary Silenced Makarov 6P9, and the special Dart Rifle. The weapons zig-zag between Hollywood twhipping (Makarov and Dart Rifle) or more realistic (MP5), but the rules for detection are a bit more realistic - the thwipping still puts enemies on alert, just without revealing your exact location unless the round goes whizzing past someone's head.
  • Far Cry 3 and on play the trope very straight, allowing the same model of Hollywood silencer to attach to almost every weapon with no apparent downsides, other than that the player has to choose between that or another attachment like a better sight or an extended magazine. Particularly jarring is that none of the weapons have unique suppressor models - the tiny 9x18mm 6P9 and the massive .50 BMG Z93 sniper rifle can fit the same suppressor model, and it's just as effective on both of them. The same rules for detection as in 2 apply, however - the only true silent long-range kill is the recurve bow or its alternates in later games. Enemies can get a pretty good approximation of where you shot from if they see someone die to your silenced gun, though if you shoot someone out of view of the rest of the group and they stumble upon the body later, they'll only be more alert in their patrolling.
  • Ghost Recon:
    • Downplayed in which suppressed weapons have realistic sounds but are inaudible from more than a few feet away. However, one of the silenced guns, the MP5, sounds like hair scissors.
    • Future Soldier changes the rules for sound detection around, where if you use a silenced weapon to shoot someone, if you kill them in one shot and none of his buddies see or hear the body drop (why the sound of a body hitting the ground is louder than the gunshot that put it there is a question for another day) or end up passing by it later, they won't notice regardless of distance. If you don't make that one-shot kill, though, you're generally going to get detected - if you missed, he'll notice the bullet passing by him and try to alert his comrades. Take more than one bullet to kill him and his buddies will generally hear or at least notice something and investigate, at which point they're likely going to find the body, unless you can kill them before that without anyone else seeing.
  • In the N64 GoldenEye, no guards would respond to silenced gun fire no matter how close they were to you. Amusingly enough, the guards wouldn't even respond to other guards firing their weapons at you, which often included incredibly loud assault rifles and submachine guns. Apparently, invading superspies intruding into the base is such a common occurrence that the guards can only be bothered to deal with it when they actually see the intruder.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas one weapon is a silenced version of the 9mm pistol, more powerful but with a lesser fire rate and held with both hands instead of Gangsta Style (thus unable to be paired up when reaching Hitman skill with it). Firing it in a crowded scene does not trigger a pedestrian panic as long as you don't shoot a person or a car's gas cap (tires are fair game). You might even get away with a few kills or car explosions until the first victim registers as dead, then they'll freak out.
  • Some video games, likely due to not enough attention paid, actually invert this – Half-Life, for instance, features an integrally suppressed MP5 which neither sounds like or is treated as though it is suppressednote .
  • Halo:
    • Halo 3: ODST features the M7S and the M6C/SOCOM, a sound suppressed sub-machine gun and pistol (respectively). They do not sound realistic and Bungie attests that they simply followed the Rule of Cool, seen in this video. While the actual gun noises are just The Coconut Effect, the enemies' reactions to the firing of a silenced weapon are realistic. Especially on Legendary, the enemies are still very likely to notice you even if you one-shot a Grunt in a secluded area with a silenced weapon. Funnily enough, the Behind-The-Scenes video released before ODST revealed they actually made the guns sound louder than usual before release.
    • Halo 5: Guardians allows you to add a silencer to your basic loadout weapons in Warzone; they do muffle the sound of gunfire somewhat, but their main gameplay benefit is reducing your visibility on enemy motion trackers when firing.
  • The Hitman series tends to play this straight, with optional silencers on pistols, rifles and submachine guns turning the noise into the usual 'thwip' without degrading weapon performance - though depending on the game you can use less effective silencers that only limit the sound instead of removing it.
    • Blood Money offers accessorizing 47's custom guns with a "Type 1" silencer, which works best with whatever low-velocity ammo is offered for the gun (and even then, is noisy), or the "Type 2," which had full Hollywood effectiveness even for "Magnum" ammo. You can even fit your sniper rifle or assault rifle with the "Type 2" model, though there's little point in that because the second you're seen carrying one enemies go on high alert.
    • Silent Assassin had five suppressed weapons, each with a suitably A.K.A.-47-ish name. Of them, the Baller SD was massively overpowered, the SMG-SD6 was fairly useful for mook-sweeping due to having the highest magazine capacity among suppressed weapons, the .22 SD was so weak that sometimes not even a headshot was fatal (it's seriously more useful for silently breaking things or deliberately grabbing someone's attention by shooting near them), and the Custom Rifle (custom-modified Walther WA2000) was audible for at least 20 meters. As for the 9mm SD, it was probably the most useful weapon in the whole game due to having nice damage, very high magazine capacity for a handgun (15 bullets), easy concealibility and plentiful ammo (guards always carry either this or an assault rifle).
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, pistol silencers (renamed to suppressors in the fan-made v1.13) will still attract attention from nearby guards, both near you and near the guard you shot. The real "silent" option is hurling a throwing knife at unaware guards' backs and necks, though even that can alert nearby guards if they see the body fall... though if they move away before the kill and return after, they won't notice a thing. Kinda weird, that. v1.13 also introduces a wealth of new "silent" weapons, mostly the subsonic variety like the AS Val assault rifle and VSSK Vychlop sniper rifle, as well as suppressors for assault and sniper rifles which are fairly useless unless you buy specially-made "cold-loaded" subsonic ammo.
  • The "Citadel" DLC for Mass Effect 3 adds a heavy pistol that features an integrated suppressor. How the M-11 silences itself is somewhat of a mystery considering that guns in Mass Effect don't use chemical explosives (real suppressors work by allowing propellant gases to expand differently), but accelerate rounds with gravity fields instead.
  • In Max Payne 3 Max improvises a silencer out of a plastic water bottle. Somehow, this works, making it a particularly egregious example even by Hollywood firearm standards.
  • Medal of Honor plays realistic takes on this one on-and-off: the first game has the silencer reducing the sound to a rather realistic muffled bang, whereas Allied Assault has a silenced pistol where almost all the sound comes from manually working the slide after each shot. Either way, shooting it will cause Nazis within a short distance to notice.
  • The Metal Gear games get this almost right. In the original two games the silencer was just an inventory item that automatically silenced all compatible weapons once you had it, but starting with Metal Gear Solid, suppressors became actual attachments for specific weapons, and suppressed weapons make a more realistic "puff" or "crack" sound (the silenced tranquilizer pistol in later games makes more of a "fwip" noise because of its subsonic ammunition), and from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater onwards the suppressors wear out (apart from some integrally-suppressed weapons in 4) and can throw off your aim quite a bit - but you can still fire them inches away from a sentry's head and they won't hear a thing (except on harder difficulties in later games, and they will also hear bullets and darts ricocheting off nearby surfaces). This of course only applies to non-human opponents: Players in Metal Gear Online can hear suppressed gunshots just fine if they're alert enough.
    • The series, from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty onward, also realistically depicts how a more-effectively silenced weapon would actually need to be set up to work properly: the tranquilizer guns have their slides locked and required to be manually racked after every shot. In real life, a properly silenced pistol would have the shot be quieter than the action of the pistol itself (the metallic clack of the slide moving back and forth), so the slide has to be locked to prevent it from working (not that the tranquilizer bullets have the explosive force to work the slide on their own anyway, but that's a different story). Hence the single-shot nature of the gun.
  • The Metro 2033 games feature a cousin of the Vintorez and Val, the VSK-94 silenced sniper rifle, known as the VSV in-game. 2033 also has the option to buy suppressed versions of most standard weapons, and these behave more or less realistically: they don't outright give away the character's presence the way an unsuppressed weapon would, but nearby foes will notice the noise and start actively looking for its source if they were previously idle or patrolling. They also (realistically) increase the accuracy of the guns they're attached to in exchange for less powerful shots. Metro: Last Light keeps those mechanics, but make the silencer an attachment instead of classifying a gun with one in its own market tier. Even shotguns can be suppressed, with a brutal power tradeoff for the lower noise and tighter spread.
  • Monster Hunter averts this trope. Light Bowguns can have an optional Silencer attachment that reduces how much the weapon draws attention from the monster to the wielder, and which also reduces recoil. It does not, however, make the wielder undetectable, and monsters can still turn their attention to the user in response to attacks especially if there are fewer or no teammates present.
  • The tutorial voice-over in No One Lives Forever says that "silence is a relative term when it comes to guns". The silencer still makes guns pretty damn quiet for stealth purposes.
  • PAYDAY 2 plays this perfectly straight out of necessity. Originally, the game had a proper system for this, where AI would notice and respond to gunshots even from a silenced weapon if you were within a set distance from them. This eventually had to be patched to the usual setup where nobody noticed silenced gunfire right next to them because the engine couldn't determine vertical distances for the silent rules - even in circumstances where nobody would be hearing anything from that room due to how the building itself was set up (say, one or two floors below, with thick walls and the only door facing a different direction), so long as you were within the correct distance as far as a top-down map would be concerned, they'd still react as if you'd fired your gun directly next to their ear. Other aspects are played somewhat realistically, with most suppressors having negative effects to some combination of the weapon's power and accuracy (likely due to the subsonic nature of the ammo, whether it starts that way or the suppressor slows it down) as well as the concealability due to attaching a long and thick cylinder to the end of the barrel; however, these can also be negated with a pair of skills that give bonuses to suppressed weapons, "The Professional" making them more stable and accurate and "Specialized Killing" giving them a damage boost, making suppressors the straight-up best choice to attach to just about any weapon for a player that has both skills.
  • PAYDAY 3, like its predessor, plays it straight - attaching a suppressor will completely silence the gun, allowing you to shoot it without alerting civilians and guards.
  • Perfect Dark did this a bit differently. Guards would notice if you fired the gun, so long as you were close enough or fired it multiple times. "Close enough", however, generally means "same room". This got complicated in more open levels, where enemies would either be able to hear you from the other end of the map, or arbitrary sound cutoffs would stop enemies hearing you ten feet away in one direction but not thirty feet away in another. Perfect Dark Zero went full-on for this trope, however, with the rules for detection instead mattering on whether anyone sees your target drop, hears the bullet hitting something, or finds a body on their patrol route. Particularly jarring in one level filled with spider-bots that will, if you don't take care of them by other means, come after you in large numbers and blow you up if you make any noise within the areas they're in - firing a burst from your silenced SMG to ventilate the guy manning their control panel, standing just five feet away from a bot, evidently doesn't count.
  • Zig-zagged with Roblox's Phantom Forces. The sounds vary depending on the weapon, with small caliber guns like the TEC-9 and G18 having almost inaudible 'pfh', to the 5.56 family having more distinctive 'ti' sounds, and snipers having average 'thmph' sounds, with the M107 being quiet enough to hear the gun action cycling. It's distictive feature, however, is the fact that different suppressors have different "masking ranges" on the radar. Other players outside the range won't detect the weapon firing at all on the radar, but the radars for enemies inside will locate the general position of the source of gunfire via circular pings, without actually pinpointing the exact location of it nor update it in real time. Many weapons also feature unique suppressors for them (the Mac-10's Sionics Suppressor), and integrated suppressors for various weapons.
  • Zig-zagged in PlanetSide 2. Silencers, for the most part, simply change the noise of a gun to something less distinct along with the added benefit of silenced weapons not showing up as blips on the Enemy-Detecting Radar. However, some guns lose almost all of their noise - the Terran Republic's TRAP-M1 scout rifle is almost totally silent when fired, except for clicking of the burst fire mechanism.
  • In Postal 2 you could grab cats, shove the end of the shotgun or assault rifle up their ass, and shoot the gun with the characteristic "fwip" silenced noise, accompanied with a progressively-higher-pitched meow from the cat until it eventually flies off the end of the barrel and dies after nine shots. Do remember that nothing in that game is supposed to be taken seriously. This was also done in the Postal movie. The cat was fine too.
  • In Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel, your character apparently has a Hyperspace Arsenal full of silencers that will fit onto the barrels of pretty much any pistol, submachine gun, or assault rifle. You can't silence some handguns, however, and with the exception of the integrally-suppressed SR-25, none of the shotguns, machine guns or sniper rifles can be suppressed either. Your allies also avoid the hyperspace arsenal bit by just switching from their standard assault rifle and machine gun to suppressed MP7s when you tell them to go silent. As for effectiveness, especially considering the cramped quarters it's played somewhat realistically - you may be able to sneak-attack one or two guys, but generally, unless you're taking great care to only shoot people while they're a ways away and out of their buddies' sight, as soon as you shoot one then the rest are going to either hear your shots or see your target go down. The pistols are also an interesting use of this trope, as while the Desert Eagle being un-suppressable is typical Hollywood embellishment (Deagles, being a hunting and target gun in reality, weren't exactly designed to take suppressors barring a specific 10-inch-barreled variant that only arrived in 2018, but you could stick a silencer on it in earlier Rainbow Six games - no one wants to because doing so would defeat part of the purpose of using the Deagle), the Raging Bull revolver and the Glock 18C actually can't be suppressed in reality. For the Raging Bull, this is because it's a revolver without any sort of method for sealing the cylinder gap; for the Glock it's because, as the C in its name indicates, there are various compensator cuts in its barrel and slide to redirect gases from the fired bullets upward in an attempt to counteract recoil - the muzzle flash and report escape before the suppressor can do anything about them.
  • Red Faction 2 has a silenced SMG which seems to the player to be only slightly quieter than the pistol. It also seems to be useless, however, since the majority of the game involves head-on attacks with no need for stealth - and given the insane firing rate of the SMG (which releases a five-round burst with a single tap of the Fire button), it seems difficult to believe that any guard would have difficulty locating the shooter if that guard had the ceaseless muffled coughs of a silenced SMG to go off of.
  • Done both ways in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The Sten submachinegun appears to fit this trope, but as noted in the real life section below, the suppressed versions of this gun really were that quiet (although the game makes the usual "fft" noise rather than hearing the bolt clattering). On the other hand, played straight with the high powered "Snooper" sniper rifle: it couldn't be that silent while remaining effective at long range due to the subsonic ammunition.
  • The Saboteur plays this very straight with two weapons in the game. A silenced pistol that resembles a Walther PPK, and a "Viper" submachine gun that has a built in silencer. Both weapons can be used for absolute stealth as long as no Nazi sees you firing it. Bodies dropping do cause panic and soldiers to investigate the area, but after they conclude they can't find anyone nearby, they resume normal operations and you can use the same tactic again to very useful effect. Civilians never react. Even if you are killing civilians... with loud guns! Though Nazis will react to both if they see/hear it.
    • Even more ridiculous (and awesome) is shooting someone through a metal grated floor from below. Nazis apparently cannot see through the floor so you can end up killing one guard right next to another and they will not call for reinforcements right away (until they investigate the body).
  • Saints Row: The Third includes suppressors as an upgrade for some of its weapons, which make it harder for unaware enemies to tell where you're shooting from. Likely in reference to Red Faction above (sharing the same developer), the suppressors actually make the weapons they attach to more accurate and powerful, without any explanation.
  • Sniper Elite V2 features the Welrod pistol, with its integral suppressor, which makes the classic "cat sneeze" sound when fired. Enemies do hear you miss them, though. This is a little more acceptable than most examples – the real Welrod was designed to be as quiet as possible, and is about as "silent" as guns get (which, understand, is still not very silent at all).
  • Played straighter than a light beam in Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, almost to the point of exaggeration. The silenced US SOCOM pistol fires more quietly than a falling cloth, enemies die completely silently, and even if they're not hit fatally, they don't react at all to being shot, nor does anyone else.
  • Splinter Cell series:
    • In the original three games and Double Agent, the "SC Pistol" (an FN Five-seveN) and "SC-20k" (FN F2000) have suppressors that are (semi-)realistically (in)effective. Most enemies will notice the suppressed sound, unless they are standing very far away, or the sound is drowned out by heavy machinery. Pandora Tomorrow also makes note of the necessity to slow down the bullet to reduce the sound signature, as the Jerusalem level has you acquiring the F2000 from a local gunsmith who was asked to modify it to make it more silent, only for him to note he wasn't able to make much of a change without reducing the accuracy or power.
    • Conviction went the other direction: suppressed weapons are impossible for enemies to hear, even a suppressed fully automatic assault rifle you're laying on the trigger with from five feet away. However, if you're shooting more than two bullets from anything, you're going to be spotted unless you kill the targets you're shooting at. Taken to fully ridiculous levels when, through pre-order bonuses, you can acquire a suppressed SPAS-12 semi-automatic shotgun, and still retain the shotgun qualities of the weapon (bullet spread, etc.).
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: A large number of the weapons in the trilogy can have a silencer attached (and any silencer you find are said to come with adapters and will fit any weapon that can take one - removing one from a dead person's 9mm pistol and attaching it to your 5.45mm AK is fair game) with a tradeoff on accuracy and power, and a few have integrated suppressors, either by design or because they were modded by their owners; the latter are unique guns whose suppressors don't have the normal drawbacks. While the type of sound varies from the Hollywoodian 'fwip' to simply a more muted report, the effects are the same: it doesn't make the gun completely inaudible, but it does reduce and alter the noise so that it alerts enemies in a much smaller radius, and confuses them as to where it came from.
  • Starcraft II: Ghost's rifles went from making loud mechanical sounds when firing to still-loud "pyoop" sounds, presumably so humans players can tell there's an invisible unit going around dropping nukes and sniping infantry.
  • The first Syphon Filter trilogy use chirping silenced weapons, but the later games have more realistic-sounding suppressors that close-enough enemies can hear.
  • The semi-automatic pistols in Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider both have silencer upgrades that sound very similar to how they do in real-life, though the sound effect is of course still much quieter than a real suppressed gunshot.
  • Played straight in Unturned. Zombies won't bat an eye at a silenced gun's report, although the same can't be said of players if you're shooting a gun with the makeshift muffler, as the report is muffled to a loud 'plack' (proper suppressors lower the report to "footstep on concrete" levels). As an aside, they decrease bullet damage, and if the durability of any kind of suppressor reaches 0, it stops working completely.
  • Warframe features mods for firearms that reduce the chance of enemies hearing your shots, up to 100%. This means you can make pistols, assault rifles or even shotguns you can shoot at unalerted enemies and miss several times, without ever alerting them to your presence; they will be alerted only if the shot hurts them without killing them, or if they witness a corpse of their comrade. These suppressors hardly reduce the gunshot you hear, meaning your "silent" assassin weapon will still pretty much be a boomstick. The warframe Banshee can innately make any firearm she holds be silent.
  • The Last of Us Part II lets you make a silencer out of a plastic bottle stuffed with rags. In typical Hollywood Silencer fashion, enemies won't hear it even if you shoot it right behind them.

    Web Original 
  • Liberty in Curveball lives in a penthouse apartment, so his attackers obviously need Hollywood silencers on their weapons in order to avoid alerting the neighbors.
  • Freddie Wong's Duct Hunt: The silenced gun makes a reasonably loud sound, but the guards don't hear a thing.
    • The video description jokes "This is a sneaking mission where I infiltrated a Deaf Person's Warehouse".
    • Special focus is also given to removing a silencer so Freddie's gunshot will be heard in Claymores.
  • Zig-Zagged in the Madness Combat series. In the first few episodes and first game, it's played straight, it's averted for a while, played straight again, played straight and averted at the same time in one episode, and taken to extremes in the second game.

    Western Animation 
  • Inexplicably, Family Guy played this trope straight and then averted it in the same episode. A silenced pistol is so quiet that nobody even notices anything until blood starts spreading on Stephanie's dress. Later, Diane Simmons is about to kill Lois (with an unsilenced weapon), you hear a bang, Diane drops dead, and Stewie is seen with a smoking sniper rifle, which clearly has a silencer. Interestingly, the guns work exactly as they need to for each scene to work.
    • The played straight example can be argued. The silenced pistol was fired at the same time that Brian popped the cork on a champagne bottle, and given that every pistol that ever shows up in this series is drawn exactly the same, there's no telling what kind of bullet it fired or if it was even supersonic. So it is possible that the gunshot was either covered up by or mistaken for the pop of the cork.
  • Honorable mention: One Rocky and Bullwinkle plot revolved around "Hushaboom", a silent high explosive.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One episode spoofs of the trope. Marge is using a squeeze-bottle of pancake batter, but gets embarrassed when it makes rude noises and attaches a silencer, changing it to the trademark "phut" sound.
    • Another example in the episode where Homer buys a gun, specifically a revolver, as the salesman informs him about the various accessories on offer.
    Gun Shop Owner: Well, you'll probably want the accessory kit. (pulls out a holster) Holster...
    Homer: Oh, yeah.
    Gun Shop Owner: (a belt with several bullets attached) Bandolier...
    Homer: Baby.
    Gun Shop Owner: (a suppressor) Silencer...
    Homer: Mmm-hmm.
    Gun Shop Owner: (what looks like the end of a blunderbuss) Loudener...
    Homer: [drools]
    Gun Shop Owner: (some variety of small hand-crank) Speed-cocker...
    Homer: Ooh, I like the sound of that!
    Gun Shop Owner: (huge device with several grips and a scope that's much larger than the gun itself) And this is for shooting down police helicopters.
    Homer: Oh, I don't need one of those… yet.
    • "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" included a TV special called Springfield's Most Wanted, hosted by John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. While listing suspects, Walsh says that "[Principal] Skinner had a silencer, yet the gun was clearly audible during the shooting," meant to imply that this dismissed Skinner as the culprit.

    Real Life 
Real Life Notes
  • It is entirely possible to create a truly "silent" weapon, but the major performance tradeoffs required tend to make them rare in Real Life. Requirements include: a purpose-built integrally-suppressed designnote , lower-powered subsonic ammonote , and a single-shot or bolt-actionnote . This leaves the sound of the bullet striking the target as the only audible product. What you tend to end up with is a cumbersome, low-powered, short-ranged rifle with a very low rate of fire: real (as the examples below indicate), but of limited usefulness and not exactly Hollywood material. Most people who have a need to lower their weapon's sound signature these days typically straddle a line between "totally silent but slow and short-ranged" and "totally noisy but powerful and long ranged".
  • For assassination by suppressed firearms, the most important thing is not silencing the weapon to a fwip, but changing the noise to resemble less closely the sound of actual gunfire. Once the supersonic crack is dispensed with by using subsonic ammo, a suppressor's primary benefit is in making it harder to identify or locate the noise it does produce. In a noisy urban environment, cars and heavy trucks running around, people talking or shouting, TV sets adding to the noise, a muted "pop" could go unnoticed as long as witnesses can mentally dismiss it as some common, incidental noise: somebody dropping an object, a door closing, etc.
  • For most people who aren't assassins, the main point is not "silencing" the shot at all, but rather reducing it to a volume less likely to induce deafening, particularly when firing in tight quarters (indeed, one of the early reasons for the US Army's interest in them was to keep trainee soldiers from flinching when they fired their rifles for the very first time).
  • This trope may have sent some people to prison since there have been cases of killers convicted by trace evidence of improvised silencers they wrongly assumed they needed — possibly by exposure to too many movies. Real hitmen generally do not often use silencers, as they affect accuracy and are just one more item to be disposed of after the deed that can be potentially traced back to them.
  • Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, seems to have been a victim of this trope. In a diary, he expressed disappointment that his homemade silencer "only" reduced the noise of a pistol to about one-third. If his diary is accurate, then his homemade silencer must actually have been better-crafted than most; only his expectations made it look bad.

Real Life Silenced Weapons

  • One of the few designs that has enough features to be fairly called "silent" is the .45 ACP British De Lisle Carbine of WWII, which featured a bolt-action and a barrel that was basically a single huge suppressor. The heavy, subsonic .45 ACP round was a good choice for a suppressed caliber, and the only sounds produced by firing would be the miniscule *click* of the trigger dropping the hammer, followed by whatever sound the bullet made hitting the target. If a fast follow-up shot was not necessary, the bolt-action could be slowly and carefully operated in such a way that it produced no real noise. Unfortunately, the trade off was in practical usefulness; the De Lisle was great for eliminating lone sentries (if you were close enough to attempt a headshot), but silently dropping a guy within eye or earshot of his friends would ensure you'd only get off one round before his buddies raised the alarm, and the De Lisle was definitely not a weapon you'd want to be carrying once anybody started shooting back at you.
    • The Welrod pistol was a similar design, only in handgun format.
    • There was also a version of the (in)famous Mk II Sten gun with an integrated suppressor, which was much less quiet than the De Lisle but capable of rapid fire... if you were extremely careful not to touch the barrel shroud, which got hot enough to cause quite serious burns in the time it took to fire a burst of three rounds, and the only handguard was a strip of canvas wrapped around it.
  • The Heckler & Koch MP5SD submachine gun has been the gold standard for Western made suppressed weapons since the 1980s. It uses a highly effective internal suppressor system that reduces the report of the normally-supersonic 9mm round to virtually nothing while also slowing it down (via a series of expansion chambers) to subsonic levels; unfortunately, it's also fully-automatic, and thus produces a distinctive "chattering" noise akin to a typewriter that reinforces the idea that you can't make a truly silent automatic weapon. The system also means you can't use anything other than full-power 9mm in it (subsonic loads to work with a detachable suppressor on another weapon won't produce enough force to cycle the bolt). Lastly, it's less accurate, less powerful and shorter ranged than the normal MP5.
    • The H&K SMG program to upgrade the MP5 in the 80s was meant to work together with a suppressor as well. It wasn't a dedicated, integral one but rather one that screwed onto the barrel. To aid its effectiveness both prototypes had either a nozzle or a selector-type switch to modify the gas system and choose how much of the gas went into propelling the bullet; if you needed silent shooting, you turned down the gas, and if you needed longer range you turned it back up. How effective the suppressors were on the actual weapons is unknown, since there's not a whole lot of info on the weapons and neither left the prototype phase.
    • The Korean Daewoo K7 submachine gun follows in the spirit of the MP5SD, being an integrally-suppressed 9mm submachine gun with an insane rate of fire, designed as a domestically-produced alternative to the MP5SD free from any importation costs.
  • The now rather famous VSS Vintorez sniper rifle (and its siblings, the AS Val and SR-3 Vikhr, as well as the cheaper 9A91 and VSK-94 alternatives) uses other special purpose cartridges, the 9x39mm SP-5 and SP-6 (AP). The rifle has a highly effective integral suppressor similar in concept to the MP5SD. Combined with low-velocity rounds using a heavy steel-core bullet, it is both capable of penetrating military-grade body armor and is silent enough to make its operation the loudest part of the report. But, owing to the semi-automatic action, it is still not "Hollywood Silent", and gives a report similar to a BB gun as well as a metallic clank as the bolt moves forward and back. Its subsonic and suppressed nature also gives it a lower effective range than other dedicated sniper weapons, at only about 400 meters (barely further than the effective range for a regular assault rifle), meaning it's used for counter-insurgency operations in urban areas, where getting to take a shot from further than a city block or two is a rare occurrence.
  • The double-barreled MSP and self-loading PSS are small concealed-carry pistols designed around the SP-3 and SP-4 cartridges. These rounds do not let the gases escape the cartridge casing at all (a short-stroke piston pushes the bullet out, containing the pressure). The PSS was also designed to lower cycling noise with a sophisticated mechanical recoil dampener. This results in (supposedly) perfect Hollywood Silencer effect (and makes ejected shell casings a hazard for handling). The MSP is undoubtedly the more "silent" of the two, but must be reloaded manually after every second shot, and both the MSP and PSS suffer from reduced range and accuracy compared to normal military pistol calibers.
    • Here is a video of the PSS, "developed for special personnel of the Soviet KGB, as well as for elite elements of the Spetsnaz of the Soviet Army."
  • The PBS-1, the sound suppressor for the AKM assault rifle, used together with subsonic 7.62x39mm ammo, suppresses the sound of a shot effectively enough. Can be seen and heard here.
  • The Beretta XM9 was an attempt at recreating the idea behind the Mk 22 "Hush Puppy" from The Vietnam War, e.g. a custom pistol with a purpose-built suppressor and a slide-locking mechanism. Ian McCollum looks at one here. The suppressor together with the slide-lock is demonstrated to have been highly effective at what it does, reducing the noise almost to the stereotypical "fwip" for at least the first few shots, and as Ian notes, the slide-locking mechanism technically made it more reliable with that suppressor than it would have been otherwise,note  but it also made it cumbersome in any use case beyond having a single sentry or guard dog to take care of from a couple meters, and it relied on several rubber wipes in the suppressor which the first bullet would punch a hole through, later ones gradually widening that hole and ultimately hindering its effectiveness to the point that the wipes would need to be replaced after only 25 shots. Granted, this wasn't an issue for its intended purpose, which was to act as a survival weapon for downed Air Force pilots; if they needed more than 25 shots, a broken silencer was the least of their concerns.
  • The SilencerCo Maxim-9 is an integrally-suppressed 9mm handgun. Unlike most pistols, it uses a delayed-blowback system and has a fixed barrel, which improves accuracy. The pistol has a chunky, "Auto-9"-esque suppressor on the front end which features removable baffles to reduce its size.

Real Life Silenced Revolvers

  • There are a couple of revolver designs that have a sealed cylinder. The most famous is the Nagant M1895 (see and Wikipedia). Note that you don't see many followers: this solution made the Nagant Awesome, but Impractical with its heavy trigger pull, slow reload and lack of traditional revolver advantages due to its complicated mechanism and relatively weak cartridge. Revolvers with this design, or similar, can be suppressed. Check it out here. Note that most Hollywood-silenced revolvers are not these models, however.
    • A less well-known example is the Knight's Armament Revolver Rifle: a Ruger Super Redhawk modified with a suppressed barrel and firing specialized .30-caliber bullets.
    • An extremely rare example is the Smith & Wesson / AAI Quiet Special Purpose Revolver (QSPR), also called the "tunnel revolver." Designed for use by "tunnel rats" - soldiers of small stature who squeezed into Viet Cong tunnels - the QSPR is a heavily modified .44 Magnum. The QSPR was modified by S&W into a short-barreled, smooth-bore weapon in order to fire AAI's custom .40 caliber QSPR rounds. It was basically a .40-caliber shotgun, with each round filled with 15 small tungsten balls. It was only lethal out to about 30 feet, which was sufficient for the cramped tunnels, and was about as loud as a traditionally-suppressed .22 pistol. It also had no sights, since it was meant to be used at point-blank range. Not many were made; somewhere between 25 and 250. In this case, the suppressor was added not for covert purposes, but in order to avoid destroying the firer's eardrums when discharged in such a cramped environment.
    • Another Smith & Wesson contender, the Model 625 PSDR, features a suppressor that is twice the length of the revolver itself and has a large cover on the left side to seal the cylinder gap. It was designed for Germany's SEK.
    • The Russian OTs-38 Stechkin revolver uses the aformentioned SP-4 subsonic cartridges, which have the bullets completely seated in the casing, creating a seal that eliminates any gases or flames coming out of the cylinder gap. Uniquely, the cylinder swings out to the right, and has a vertical pivot instead of a crane similar to conventional revolvers, presumably to improve gas seal. It is claimed that the Stechkin's firing sound is as quiet as dry firing the weapon.

Real Life Other

  • There actually exists a cannon silencer, or more precisely a sound suppressor used on an artillery firing range to make accommodations to nearby residents. In this case, it doesn't so much reduce the noise, but to channel the sound into the air and away from people. The rather... phallic appearance was probably unintentional.note 
  • Some specials operations forces still use crossbows in limited roles because they are almost totally silent. Of course, they have all the problems that one would expect of a silent weapon: low power and low rate of fire. They compensate somewhat for the former by having ammunition with sharpened points, which improves penetration, thus also making them more effective against typical Kevlar-weave bulletproof vests.


Video Example(s):


John Wick vs Cassian

While walking through crowds at different levels, John and Cassian shoot at each other with silenced weapons. Absolutely none of the nearby civilians notice or hear anything out of the ordinary, but in real life, the guns would still be very, very audible.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / HollywoodSilencer

Media sources: