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Law of Inverse Recoil

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The recoil of a real-life projectile weapon on television is inversely related to the recoil it has in real life.

Firearms depicted in films and television seldom (if ever) demonstrate realistic recoil action (ironically, it is usually more realistic in comedies or when used for comedic effect, e.g., the weapon smacking the shooter in the face or flying out of their hand as they lose their grip). The practical reason for this is because blank-firing prop guns have no projectile, meaning very little mass is pushed out of the barrel, hence minimal recoil (Newton's third law) — it is not true that they have none, however, or they would not even be able to cycle their own action. No matter what type of small arms are used in fiction — even fully automatic, high-caliber ordnance and heavy-gauge shotguns — the shooter will not so much as flinch.

This often leads to nasty surprises for first-time shooters who expect that the 10-gauge shotgun or .454 Casull revolver they rented at the range will have no discernible "kick", when both actually sport recoil powerful enough to bruise the shoulder or sprain the wrist — possibly even fly back and smack the unprepared shooter in the face.

Naturally, this makes Guns Akimbo with automatic weapons wholly impractical in real life (of course, impractical never stopped anyone in pursuit of cool).

On the flip side, real shoulder-fired rocket launchers have very little to no recoil: they are open at the back and make use of Newton's third law of motion, which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (rocket power relies on this law of physics), imparting no momentum ("recoil") on the shooter (sometimes, it is augmented with counterbalancing weighted objects expelled backwards). There is some recoil, originating from either friction between projectile and tube, compressed-air expulsion system, or anything else needed to throw several pounds several feet forward. In fact, they're alternatively called recoilless rifles for this lack of recoil. Grenade launchers, meanwhile, use the same propulsion method as normal firearms, yet their much larger mass is accompanied by much lower speed, giving recoil similar to a regular rifle or shotgun. Yet, when used by a fictitious character, both of these somehow pack enough force to violently push back the wielder. Presumably, this is due to the erroneous belief that anything that destructive has to have a powerful kick. See Missing Backblast and Blown Across the Room for related misconceptions.

The trick to this trope is finding any film or TV show that doesn't do this. Subversions are much more common outside of live action simply because there are no actors around forgetting to simulate recoil as they fire blanks. Many films also opt to add muzzle flashes in digitally, which can invoke this trope as guns can now be depicted firing when they were never originally intended to during filming. Video games tend to be more realistic in regards to firearms, but explosive "launching" weapons still pack monstrously unrealistic recoil (on the other hand, player characters tend to not be blown to smithereens for using such weapons indoors or with their back to a wall, something suicidal with most recoilless weapons). In some video games, you can even use recoil for extra propulsion.

Interestingly, this trope does make slightly more sense when combined with Missing Backblast. If all that pressurized gas isn't coming out the back of the weapon to create backblast, then as per Newton's Third Law it's going to create a hell of a lot of recoil. Fridge Brilliance?

High-velocity Magnetic Weapons are going to have significantly less recoil for their size (as kinetic energy scales to the square of velocity but momentum and thus recoil only scales linearly), but any sufficiently powerful or rapid firing weapons would go back to this trope.

The other side of Blown Across the Room. See also Steel Ear Drums for another ignored part of guns being fired.

Since the trope is so prevalent, it's only worth listing exceptions:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Done correctly in A Certain Magical Index:
    • Mikoto's railgun is the obvious example. Due to the way she creates the magnetic rails literally out of thin air using her power, there's nothing for the "gun" to recoil against; the energy from the shot merely blasts back against the air, which has the benefit of causing a nice big Dramatic Wind.
    • Mugino's "Meltdowner" (basically a giant plasma beam) is not described in as much detail as Mikoto's railgun, but it is perfectly possible for a plasma weapon to fire with effectively no recoil. It is also possible to use it as a plasma rocket if necessary; she uses this to survive a fall at one point.
    • Actually averted in the case of Seike, a member of Scavenger. She actually sustains massive recoil from the gun she fires, which she takes advantage of by reducing the friction below her feet to zero to propel her at high speed.
  • Blame: In the manga, not only does Killy's graviton beam emitter pistol produce recoil, but on the first occasion when he turned it up to full power the recoil was enough to break his arm.
  • Cannon God Exaxxion: The manga features guns so powerful that they're just as likely to kill somebody standing several feet behind as well as in front of them unless you're wearing a suit of Powered Armor. This is often a source of dramatic tension, as the main character is trying to be as heroic as possible in a world far into the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism & accidentally vaporizing innocent bystanders isn't exactly the sort of thing heroes do.
  • City Hunter represents recoil correctly, with first time shooters failing miserably (and sometimes getting blown across the room) due the recoil of shooting a .357 Magnum revolver. The only times it looks played straight is when it's Justified by the shooter being either Ryo or Mick Angel (who have trained extensively enough to handle the recoil of a .357 Magnum of even a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle one-handed) or Umibozu (who is gigantic and strong enough to casually bend metal, so firing a machine gun is easy for him).
  • In the climax of the Cowboy Bebop episode "Heavy Metal Queen", Spike fires his pistol several times in space, using the recoil to push himself back towards the spaceship to avoid being blown to smithereens. Lacking friction, each shot adds to his speed, which helps explain his rapid movement. Still, it looks like a massive recoil.
    • According to IMFDB, Spike uses a Jericho 941 R chambered in 9x19mm. Assuming a +p+ load, that's a 7.45g projectile at 435m/s. Spike weighs, say, 80kg. Each round fired will accelerate Spike by (7.45g * 435m/s)/80,000g = 0.0405m/s. A full 15 rounds would give him a velocity of 0.6075m/s. Taking into account propellant gases at an alpha of 1.75 (no atmosphere), he should end up at just over 1m/s, or a relaxed walking pace.
    • The bigger problem of that scene is that he held his breath while unprotected in space. He should have instead expelled all the air from his lungs. At least he had the presence of mind to put earplugs in to keep his eardrums from exploding.
  • Darker than Black: Suou in the second season shoots PTRD antitank rifle from the hip like it's a pop gun, regardless of it being larger than she is, extremely heavy, and having a really mean recoil even despite its huge muzzle brake. Justified by the gun being not real but manifested through her super powers. When her twin brother Shion shoots it, he uses a real rifle with all its drawbacks accounted for.
  • In Desert Punk, Kanta's preteen sidekick Kosuna complains almost literally that her small pistol is not cool enough to match her self-persona. Kanta then takes her to an arms dealer, who first forces her to go dig holes for several hours before allowing her to try out an assault rifle. While she exhibits accuracy that astonishes Kanta and the arms dealer, she brings the gun back admitting that firing it is physically punishing for a girl her size and that she'd be completely ineffective in combat with it.
  • The manga adaptation of James P. Hogan's novel The Two Faces of Tomorrow has a scene where a Space Marine floating outside the space station in a spacesuit fires a particle beam rifle. Small thrusters on his jetpack fire to counter the weapon's recoil.
  • Dragon Ball: In Goku's first tournament, Jackie Chun is knocked out of the ring, but he manages to get himself back into the ring before he touches the ground with the recoil from a Kamehameha. Goku learns from this, and at the next tournament, pulls off a similar trick to defeat Tien while he's busy taunting him about how he can fly and block his Kamehameha. And at the tournament after that, he uses a Kamehameha out of his feet to propel himself.
  • The Jagd Mirage's main caliber, Twin Towers buster launchers in The Five Star Stories neatly avert the trope. Jagd, a heavy artillery support MH, generally needed to properly deploy before firing, releasing numerous additional arms and legs to anchor itself in the ground, brace its own structure and deploy special shields to protect itself from the enormous recoil and backblast of its own guns. It was also mentioned that it was almost completely defenseless in the deployed mode, and thus was always accompanied by a squad of other mechas for protection. Due to its impractical nature, only two were ever built.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, the Laevatein (the Mid-Season Upgrade to the Arbalest) is equipped with a giant gun called a demolition cannon; when in its Howitzer Mode, the recoil is so great that the Laevatein will be knocked off its feet unless the physics-defying Lambda Driver is active.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • Batou's anti-tank rifle ("Your standard issue big gun") features a realistic recoil dampener (a device to temporarily store the kinetic energy and then slowly dissipate it, converting the sudden "kick" into more manageable "sliding" action).
    • In the movie version, most characters are cyborgs, but a mook must brace himself before firing hypervelocity armour-piercing bullets from a submachine gun. Said armour-piercing bullets effectively ruin the gun's accuracy (and the gun itself), leaving him open to summary beatdown shortly afterwards.
  • In Gunslinger Girl, all the weapons have realistic recoil, including handguns. The only reason that the girls can handle even large weapons, despite their own small size, is that they are cybernetically enhanced.
  • Seras Victoria in Hellsing notes after becoming a vampire that she barely feels the kick on a huge gun, demonstrating her new super strength. She later gets an even bigger gun and can fire it with ease. Although when she uses a huge (even by her standards) anti-aircraft gun, she still needs to have it brace itself against the ground to account for the fact that she lacks the sheer mass to avoid being knocked over by the recoil (The gun weighs several times more than she does - when unloaded).
  • In the final chapter of Macross Plus, when struggling against Sharon Apple and other threats, Myung has the common sense to arm herself with the submachine gun of a fallen guard (by itself, quite a rare occurrence) but wastes almost the entire magazine when she tries to use it in full-auto, being overcome by recoil and spraying bullets everywhere. She gets a few shots in the right direction, however...
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, during his fight with Packard, Shiro attempts to shoot Packard with every single gun on his Gundam at once. While it makes a very impressive show of firepower, the combined kick of all the automatic weapons going off at once means none of the shots come even remotely close to hitting their target. Packard doesn't even bother dodging; as a more experienced soldier, he knew exactly how that stunt would turn out.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Negi uses the recoil from a magic arrow to avoid a blast by his father during their fight in the Mahora Budokai.
  • In Princess Mononoke, a village woman takes a shot at Ashitaka with a newly designed (and still relatively primitive) musket. The recoil blows her off her feet and through the crowd of people standing behind her. Eboshi uses the same musket before and after this with much less recoil, although she is much more skilled in combat.
  • In Rebuild World, the firearms that Akira handles are large, loud, and heavy. Because of this, the recoil throws his aim off at the beginning because of how unused to it he is. Alpha also has to warn him against trying to go Guns Akimbo, as the recoil would throw his aim off at best and tear his arms off at worst because of how scrawny he is. This is also why any hunter worth their salt will wear augmented suits to help them handle the recoil more easily and allow them to wield more powerful weapons without injuring themselves.
  • Rocket Girls: In episode 2, the protagonist, a lightly built teenage girl, is given a gun and told to practice firing on a shooting range. She doesn't expect the recoil and falls over backwards.
  • Sword Art Online: Averted in the real-world segments; backstory for Phantom Bullet involves an elementary-age Shino Asada playing Badass Bystander against an attempted bank robber. When she takes his gun and fires it at him, the recoil realistically sends the gun reeling back over her head.
  • Played with in Teki wa Kaizoku; the main character jerks his wrists whenever he fires his laser gun like it's recoiling even though laser weapons shouldn't, but immediately after we first see him fire it he's called on that and he admits that pretending his gun recoils is just a hobby of his. Sure enough, if you pay attention in future fight scenes, he keeps doing it, but nobody else does.

    Comic Books 
  • A sequence in the DC Comics Mini Series Guy Gardner Reborn, parodying Marvel's The Punisher, has the title character burst into a room with Guns Akimbo, and rapidly lose control of them, injuring himself.
  • Lucky Luke has a grandpa in a wheelchair who shoots a shotgun several times in the book. The recoil always sends him rolling backwards into the nearest pond or something.
  • Preacher:
    • The undersized, weedy, egotistical villain Odin "Meatman" Quincannon has a suitably oversized weapon (a sodding great magnum — not compensating for anything of course). When he tries to shoot it one-handed, it breaks his arm.
    • A very young Tulip is carefully taught about guns; a powerful handgun sends her slamming back into a deep snowdrift.
  • Sin City monologues sometimes refer to the sensation of recoil but it's minimal.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion, where Shinji while piloting Unit-01 tries to use a High-Velocity Assault Rifle one handed (the other hand was busted) and fail. Being written by the physics student helps.
  • It seems to be present in James Bond fan film Diamond's Cut, although guns are fired too rarely to be really sure. However, one could consider the arms’ dealer missing Bond with his pistol at point-blank range as either an aversion of this or plain Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy at work.
  • Fallout: Equestria - Empty Quiver:
    • Wholly averted with War Crime, the pony-portable full-auto sniper rifle chambered for the massive .50 MG round. The first time Night Strike fires it, she promptly receives a lesson in just what 'kicks like an apple farmer' means.
    • Arguably played straight when it comes to Thumper's 40mm slug and other shotgun-type ammunition, however; there is some noticeable recoil, but for the size of the shell being fired it's hardly what one would expect - that is to say, Night Strike doesn't wind up snapping her neck every time she fires one of them from it.
  • During the climax of The Next Frontier, Bob finds himself firing a sub-machine gun for the first time. Unprepared for the recoil, as he's only had minimal training with firearms and none with a fully automatic weapon, he ends up reflexively holding down the trigger and wastes about a third of a magazine. He learns quickly.
  • Averted (in somewhat amusing fashion) in the Heroes of the Storm fanfic Heroes of the Desk. Valla fires a very large sniper rifle while standing (much to the chagrin of her minder who goes so far as to call in a medical team). She gets blown across the room and lands painfully on her rear, resulting in a big bruise for her trouble.
  • Averted in I Wouldn't Exactly Call That Sitting when Dawn uses a shotgun to kill a vampire, the recoil knocks her off her feet. Xander promptly gives her a pair of pistols and takes the shotgun for himself.
  • Under the Bridge has an interesting aversion: The "Gray Mouse" invented a weapon which she calls "Darned Nearly Recoilless Rifle". It uses .22 rimfire ammo (which, on rodents' scale, amounts to artillery), it is held like a bazooka, and "darned nearly recoilless" means that the remaining recoil would still knock the operator over.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood averts this when Red Hood fires the rocket launcher at Black Mask's office. There is no recoil, but the backdraft of a recoil-less rocket launcher is correctly shown, and he is sensibly firing from an open rooftop with nothing to his back.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ad Astra. Even firing an energy weapon is shown to produce enough recoil to throw off the shooter when he's in zero gravity.
  • During a gun battle in The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Dina picks up an automatic pistol, but ends up shooting in all directions due to recoil, but she took out most of the mooks until stopped by Bruno the robot which he takes care of the rest with his guns.
  • Played straight most of the time in The A-Team, but there is one notable aversion when they use recoil to maneuver a parachuting tank (long story).
  • The protagonist of The Axe hurts his shoulder when trying to shoot a handgun one-handed. Repeatedly.
  • The Beast of War averts this with the tank cannons. Whereas most films would show just smoke and flame spitting out the barrel, in this film they used modified blanks that shot water equal to the weight of an actual round, creating a realistic recoil.
  • Beverly Hills Cop II has Billy firing a LAW rocket while holding it loosely in front of himself sideways as he reads the directions. "Extend here. Press here." click-Whoosh! It is correctly shown with very little recoil.
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack attempts to fire a fully-automatic submachine gun, but ends up spraying bullets in every direction, only taking out a bad guy by accident.
  • In the Soviet film Come and See a German soldier armed with a flamethrower is seen being thrown back slightly every time he fires. This is Truth in Television - flamethrowers use very high pressure gasses to propel the fuel, and spray several pounds of fuel a second.
  • During the production of Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood spent time firing a real .44 Magnum revolver so he could accurately portray its recoil. In the sequel Callahan states that he uses a .44 Special load to minimize the recoil (which would mean he's no longer firing "the most powerful handgun in the world" though still powerful enough to "to blow your head clean off").
  • Diamonds Are Forever. During the attack on the oilrig, some SPECTRE mooks see James Bond and go to shoot him. Bond has his hands full so tells the Bond Girl to pick up a discarded submachine gun and shoot them. Fortunately a helicopter gunship happens to blow up the mooks with a rocket, because when she fires the recoil from the submachine gun knocks her over the side.
  • In the Japanese film version of Hakaider (a Darker and Edgier story starring a villain from tokusatsu series Kikaider), the titular Android uses a custom shotgun that acts more like a handheld cannon. When a mook gets his hands on it and attempts to fire, the recoil literally (and gorily) tears his arm out of its socket.
  • High Heels and Low Lifes: When Shannon, who has obviously never fired a gun before, attempts to shoot an automatic rifle, the recoil causes the barrel to rise uncontrollably, so that she not only completely misses her targets but by the end of the burst she is shooting the roof. And when she fires the underbarrel grenade launcher, the recoil knocks her backwards into a hedge.
  • Men in Black has an absurdly tiny gun called the Noisy Cricket. When Agent J fires it, the recoil tosses him into a car several parking spots behind his firing position. In the animated series, J gets a silencer of sorts that reduces the recoil.
  • Miller's Crossing: When a gangster with a tommy gun is fatally shot, his Dead Man's Trigger Finger causes the gun to fire full auto and swing wildly from the recoil, spraying rounds into both the floor and ceiling.
  • Pineapple Express: It gets hilariously averted at one point in climax when Saul is about to deliver the coup de grace to the female officer, shouting "Fuck the Po-Leece!" before emptying the clip... Only for the recoil to kick the rifle up to the ceiling after the first round in slow motion.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the midget member of Jack's crew charges out of a cellar wielding what looks to be a cannon over his arm. He shoots it and is blown right back into the cellar.
  • In Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Tackleberry lets one of the new recruits, an old lady, use his giant .44 Magnum. It sends her flying into the back wall of the shooting range.
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr. The Damsel Scrappy is told to fire a captured AR-10 battle rifle in the air while the hero sneaks in to rescue her father, but she's unbalanced by the recoil and shoots up the villains instead. This is a Rule of Funny example as she's standing on a cliff above the villain's campsite, and the recoil is portrayed as pulling the muzzle down rather than pushing it up as would happen in real life.
  • Recoil is portrayed fairly realistically in Revenge. In particular, the first time Jen fires Dimi's Mossberg 590 shotgun, she is completely unprepared for the recoil and it knocks her flat on her ass. The shot goes wild and wings Stan in the shoulder, rather than hitting him in the head. (It should be noted that Dimi, the Fat Bastard she took it off, was much heavier than the slight Jen.)
  • In spite of being a largely comedic zombie film, Return of the Living Dead Part II includes a scene where the Kid Hero tries to blow away a brain eater with a revolver, only for the recoil to knock him on his ass and somehow knock the gun under a desk.
  • In Ride Along, Ben gets taken to a shooting range to test his shooting skills, and fails repeatedly to hit the target at all with a pistol. He then demands a shotgun, but when he fires it, the recoil knocks him backwards off his feet into a large litter bin.
  • Justified in The Terminator (where Arnie fires shotguns and assault rifles one handed) by the fact that he is a cyborg. Except in later Arnie action movies (where he's playing a human) he kept on doing the same thing. It should be noted that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a gun enthusiast and former soldier in the Austrian military, has mentioned in interviews that he's well aware of how unrealistic this is.
  • In Toy Soldiers when teenaged preppy Wil Wheaton picks up a full-auto AK and tries to blast the villains with it; about two bullets go in the right direction, the rest of the magazine goes into the ceiling. And he obviously would like to make the gun stop but can't.
  • True Lies, when Jamie Lee Curtis' character attempts to fire a MAC-10 at the terrorists — and completely loses control of the weapon due to its recoil, sending it tumbling down a flight of stairs, firing by itself all the way down. Not only that, she actually killed a bunch of people in the process.

  • In Daniel Keys Moran's "A.I. War", the as yet unpublished sequel to The Last Dancer (available here), a bounty hunter shoots Trent with both barrels of a shotgun. Unfortunately for the bounty hunter, they happen to be on the surface of Ceres (one of the asteroids in our Asteroid Belt) at the time, which has an escape velocity of far less than the recoil of even one of the barrels of the gun. He is surprised to find himself flying off of Ceres in the direction of Earth at a few tens of meters per second.
  • In Cell when one of the protagonists is fatally injured by hit-and-run hooligans. Another character had picked up an AKS-47 assault rifle from a gun enthusiast's house, but when he fires 'Sir Speedy' it empties most of the bullets into the air.
  • In The Drawing of the Three, by Stephen King, a gunman quickly loses control of his heavy automatic weapon while trying to shoot Eddie because he does not expect such a huge recoil. Lampshaded by the narrator's going into some detail about the absurdity of the trope. As King points out, unless the hitman gets Eddie with the first few shots he will probably miss entirely as recoil spins him slowly around, and this is exactly what happens. However, this stands in some contrast to reality, as evidenced here.
  • The novel Gradisil by Adam Roberts plays about with this one a little, in the form of sniper rifles designed for use in space. Because of the whole weightlessness thing, a hugely powerful rifle fired during a space walk would have a tendency to fire the shooter backwards off whatever he was standing on. Instead of the obvious solution (fastening the shooter or gun to the deck) the guns are specifically designed to emit an equal and opposite blast of gas on firing meaning that the net recoil is zero. Unfortunately, Roberts tends to forget that the same implications apply when guns are fired inside space craft.
  • In Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's first Hoka story, The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch, Alexander Jones gets in trouble when he assumes that his skill with a laser pistol will translate into skill with a six-shooter. He's never experienced recoil before.
  • Pointedly averted in the book Patriot Games Jack Ryan gets his hands on one of the terrorist's submachine guns and fires on them. Before firing he remembers his military training and aims with his target in the upper right part of the sight to account for the recoil and make sure that subsequent rounds will still be on target.
  • In Un Lun Dun when Deeba first fires the unGun she falls over because of the recoil. She gets better at firing it later on, though.
  • There's a non-fiction book in which it's pointed out that Rambo should have two spontaneously-dislocating shoulders due to the abuse they've taken from firing machine guns akimbo (he'd be deaf too, but that's another trope entirely). The fact that Rambo never used Guns Akimbo in any of the films should not detract from the author's point.
  • In Sharpe, the recoil of muskets bruising people's shoulders is repeatedly mentioned, and in particular the seven-volley Nock gun has such a powerful recoil that only exceptionally tall, bulky and strong men like Sergeant Harper can safely fire it. Which was Truth in Television. Also more briefly covered in the TV adaptation.
  • Justified in the StarCraft I novelization Liberty's Crusade. Jim Raynor teaches protagonist Michael Liberty (a reporter) how to shoot a Marine Gauss rifle while wearing Powered Armor. Mike aims, then stops and asks Raynor how to handle the recoil. Raynor is impressed that he thought to ask, a couple redshirts pass credits around, and Raynor explains that the suit compensates automatically.
  • Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley. In the opening shootout, one of the Chinese gang members shoots off his own toes after being knocked over by the recoil of his full-auto shotgun.
  • Sci-fi author Harry Harrison loves averting this trope with 'recoilless' handweapons ranging from a .75 calibre Hand Cannon (see The Stainless Steel Rat) to an underarm-fired .50 calibre BFG in Starworld. In his story "The Jupiter Plague" Harrison describes the "small tangent flames" that shoot out sideways from the end of the barrel when the weapon is fired. Apparently his 'recoilless' hand weapons work by venting the hot gasses out small holes in the sides of the end of the barrel, and angled toward the back, to counteract the recoil. Ouch! This is known as a "muzzle brake", and is in fact used in real life to reduce recoil. They're typically only used on very long-barreled rifles, not on handguns, because the vented gases can be dangerous (gas ports along the top of the barrel called "compensators" are much more common on handguns).
    • Mack Reynolds also had his protagonists armed with recoilless handguns, though using contemporary small calibers rather than the Hand Cannons of Harry Harrison novels.
  • In True Grit, 14 year-old Mattie discovers the effects of recoil at the most inopportune time and place.
  • In World War Z, early on when a doctor is combating a zombie in his clinic during the early stages of the outbreak, he aims a Desert Eagle pistol at the zombie's chest; however, because he wasn't expecting the high recoil, the shot ended up in the zombie's head, which ended up saving his life.
  • In Marion G. Harmon's Wearing the Cape novel Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, the gun shop owner clearly expects Jacky to be bit by this when she insists on firing her gun posed like an old-style duelist. She demonstrates her superstrength can handle it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: Miami
    • A criminal is identified by the characteristic injuries he received from the recoil when he fired a rocket launcher. This is strange in and itself, since a rocket launcher doesn't have that big recoil. An ordinary rifle or shotgun kicks more.
    • In another episode, a guy ends up fricasseeing himself by firing a bazooka from inside an extremely enclosed area.
    • In "Deep Freeze," relative newcomer Natalia dislocates her shoulder after doing some shooting practice with a shotgun.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In "Stealing Home," a killer is identified because they weren't used to the recoil of the revolver they used, and left a nice long scrape of knuckle skin on the brick wall they were shooting from behind, as well as a nick on the top of the gun's frame where it hit the attractive concrete handrail at the top.
    • Averted by Lindsay in "Stuck on You" where Mac has her fire a crossbow since she's the same size as one of the suspects. In spite of being a country girl from Montana, she's never fired one before and is excited to try. She handles it very well and wants to keep on doing it.
  • An episode of Psych has Det. Lassiter training a rookie detective who happens to be completely insane. When he takes her to the firing range, he comments that she isn't bracing herself properly to fire his gun, but she shrugs him off. The recoil from the gun blows it out of her hands.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • While Teal'c does do Guns Akimbo, he is a truly exceptional individual from a race of bred warriors. The rest of the cast hold their guns with both hands, even when firing pistols.
    • In the P90's case, this isn't exactly a bad idea, as its recoil is almost negligible.
    • The first season finale, where Daniel Jackson of all people actually goes Guns Akimbo with an M9 in one hand and an MP5 in the other. He winds up doing more damage to the walls than anything else.
    • In "Children of the Gods", they correctly portray a rocket launcher as having next to no recoil.
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Robin takes Marshall to a shooting range to help him get over Lily leaving him for the summer. He picks up the gun, shoots it, and it recoils to smack him right in the face, knocking him on his ass.
  • Farscape
    • John Crichton uses a pulse rifle to propel himself from one spaceship to another in one episode. Whether an energy weapon would produce enough recoil to do this is another question entirely.
    • In the Farscape-verse, pulse rifles are actually projectile weapons that fire highly energized pulses of a refined explosive oil (oh, you know what I mean). Guns have been shown to malfunction, sending the pulse a few inches before it nose-dives and makes a hole in the floor.
  • A somewhat questionable aversion occurs in Quatermass II when an astronaut fires a submachine gun on an asteroid, and the recoil knocks him off the low gravity surface and out into space.
  • Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye: Averted when a semi-trained sniper killer was identified by a black left eye. They were able to figure out that he was only an amateur copycat (and not the expert killer they were tracking) as he put his face too close to the scope and got smacked in the eye by the recoil, a mistake that real snipers would never make.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • Kamen Rider OOO: The Birth Buster used by Kamen Rider Birth actually has a huge recoil, enough to knock an unprepared person flat on their butt. Like any weapon in Real Life, it evidentially takes practice to use it untransformed (and according to its user, even transformed), as while Date (the primary user) has no problems with it, Goto gets thrown off his feet the first time he tries due to not having the proper knowledge of its use.
  • In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Weak, but Skilled Ride Player Nico borrows the Gashacon Magnum from an ally. The Finishing Move leaves her on the ground, several feet from where she started.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One has the Attache Shotgun, which has recoil that tends to mess with its users. Its main wielder, Kamen Rider Vulcan, often compensates by switching to his Mighty Glacier form and using the extra strength to help keep control.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Season two of the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had the Power Cannon, a giant bazooka which had recoil enough to make all six Rangers stumble back.
    • In Power Rangers Wild Force, this became something of a plot point with the Megazords. The first time the Wild Force Megazord used the Bear Blaster, it recoiled noticeably and the energy blasts went wild (though they still hit the target). It was later revealed that the Bear Brothers were too powerful for the Lion Zord to handle and greatly injured him. The next episodes were then spent finding the Soul Bird (to heal the Lion Zord) and the much stronger Mighty Glacier Gorilla Zord to replace the Jack of All Stats Lion Zord in controlling the Bear Zords and forming the Kongazord (itself a Mighty Glacier compared to the Jack of All Stats Wild Force Megazord).
    • The Dual Crusher from GoGo Sentai Boukenger / Drill Blaster from Power Rangers Operation Overdrive knocks the user flat (and that's for morphed Rangers; it could be worse for someone untransformed). A special armored vest had to be developed to disperse the energies.
  • The Goodies. Played straight for slapstick comedy in the Pirate Post Office episode. Graeme tries to fire a shotgun from a boat and the recoil knocks him over the side.
  • Although recoil is generally not addressed, in an episode of The Walking Dead, Carol complains of a sore shoulder due to not being used to the recoil of a rifle she was using.
  • In an episode of The West Wing, CJ Cregg's temporarily-assigned Secret Service agent takes her to a firing range. She aims, pulls the trigger... and falls on her ass. It's pretty hilarious, especially if you already know a bit about handguns. Doubly so for anyone who watches NCIS, as her agent is the same actor who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a Marine corps-trained sniper. Apparently Mark Harmon's characters are very good shots. They even go the extra distance and get the sound of the guns firing correct. Toby also falls on his ass in a later episode while skeet shooting.
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Almost echoing a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one episode has Young Indy in a hot air balloon with Remy and a captured German officer being chased by a squadron of fighter planes. Indy tries to fend them off with a machine gun, oblivious to warnings that the gun will "walk up" if he doesn't brace properly, and sure enough, the recoil sends the barrel pointing upwards and punching several nasty holes in the balloon. ("That is walking up.")

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 goes out of its way to avoid this, in a setting that normally has a total disregard for such details: Imperial Guard rocket launchers are stated to have no recoil when used properly, and a bolter in the hands of a non-Super-Soldier has been known to break bones.
  • Dark Heresy doesn't go into specifics about how much recoil there is but firing a single shot gives a small bonus to your shooting roll; firing on semi-automatic reduces or negates the bonus, and firing at full automatic either negates the bonus or instills a penalty (the different lines use slightly different mechanics). Similarly, there's one weapon literally called the Hand Cannon: it's so large and has such recoil that you need to wield it two-handed or suffer a penalty as if it were a rifle. And of course, mostly due to this trope, there is an item called a Recoil Glove that lets you fire two-handed ranged weapons (and the Hand Cannon) single-handedly without penalty.
  • In the Rifts RPG, the Glitter Boy boom gun (the BFG of all BFGs) requires the wearer of the armour to engage foot anchors and backpack thrusters to absorb the massive recoil.
  • GURPS, in its relentless pursuit of accuracy, avoids this at every turn and even tries to establish realistic recoil of weapons that don't exist.
  • In one Call of Cthulhu sourcebook it is stated that while firing both barrels of a large calibre elephant gun might just save your life, it will break your shoulder even so.
  • In Shadowrun recoil penalties are applied any time a player wants to shoot more than one bullet in a turn.
  • The Traveller science-fiction RPG has man-portable energy weapons (the game's BFG) that can only be fired while wearing a suit of Powered Armor that automatically locks your body into one of several safe firing positions.
  • Justified in Mage: The Awakening; if a Mage has knowledge of the force arcanum, they can enchant a weapon to disperse the opposite reaction of the forces, completely removing any recoil from the gun.

    Video Games 
  • Quite averted in the ARMA series. Various guns have different amounts of recoil modified by whether you are standing, crouching, lying prone or bracing the weapon and while rocket and missile launchers don't have recoil, they do sport an almost lethal backblast zone behind them and definitely should not be fired at too steep an angle or with your back to a wall.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater the RPG-7 has minor recoil, allowing Snake all the time he needs to fix another grenade to the end of the weapon and fire again before his target can react. There's also a scene where a character holds their gun gangsta style so that the recoil will drive their aim in a horizontal sweep with minimal effort on their part. It's mentioned later in a radio conversation that it's a Chinese technique.
  • All of the Resident Evil titles have featured appropriate recoil for small arms and especially shotguns, but pointedly not for rocket and grenade launchers, which kick hardest of all. Resident Evil 5 was the first to introduce muzzle climb on fully automatic weapons, which is realistic, but a good example of why its absence is usually considered an Acceptable Break from Reality. Rocket Launchers still have a little more kick than they should from part 4 onward, but it's been toned down considerably. Resident Evil (Remake) even notably has different levels of recoil depending on whether you're playing as Chris or Jill. Chris, being a veteran marksman, is able to fire the shotgun from the hip and fire the powerful .357 magnum under control, while Jill who is far less experienced with firearms can only fire the shotgun from the shoulder and stumbles back slightly every time she fires the magnum. This also makes a noticeable difference in gameplay as Chris's superior control over recoil lets him fire his weapons faster and with more accuracy, which somewhat helps close the gap between him and Jill in the original game.
  • In Halo, firing a gun will cause it to move on your screen (even back during the original Halo: Combat Evolved), but in the early games this generally had little-to-no effect on gameplay, since the reticle itself would remain essentially stationary (even if you're firing an assault rifle at full auto); this is sort of justified by Master Chief being a Spartan Super-Soldier with superhuman strength and and half-ton armor. Later games made recoil much more of a gameplay factor, particularly with automatics; for example, the Halo 5: Guardians assault rifle actually has pretty significant muzzle climb.
    • One notable aversion even in the earlier games is the SMG, whose Halo 2 incarnation had particularly insane muzzle climb at full auto.
    • Particularly averted in Halo 3: ODST, where automatic and semi-automatic weapons have very noticeable recoil. For example, rapidly pulling the trigger on a pistol will result in significant muzzle climb, while slowing the rate of fire down will result in much more fire control. This is justified in the story by the player characters not being augmented and power armor-wearing super soldiers, but elite unaugmented soldiers.
  • Avoided in the Call of Duty games. The rocket launchers have zero recoil, the cannon on the first game's tank will actually make you move back a couple feet and all guns have as realistic recoil as possible. A notable and severe exception is the M240B in Modern Warfare 2 - it's a 7.62mm medium machine gun that weighs 27 pounds empty. The recoil is severe to the point that the ideal firing position is from a tripod, and if the gunner doesn't have enough time he makes do with the built-in bipod. In the game, however, it has the least recoil of all the machine guns and can be fired easily from the shoulder - and as such, it is also the weakest of the game's machine guns, despite firing the largest bullet among them. The worst part is that they could have done that realistically by using the Mk. 48, a much lighter and smaller version that can be fired from the shoulder. It still has a hefty kick, though.
  • Mass Effect averts this quite reasonably; high-powered shotguns and sniper rifles have a lot of recoil, and automatic weapons have higher recoil depending on how long the trigger is held down.
    • To the point that a major selling point for the Locust SMG in Mass Effect 2 is how insignificant the recoil is.
    • Other weapons are described as made for more durable races, like the Claymore or Widow. The tooltips describe how the weapons were remanufactured specifically to avoid breaking the arm of a human wielder.
  • In Killzone, all the standard rifles, pistols, and grenade launchers have realistic amounts of recoil, the rocket launchers have no recoil at all (which would make the Helghast launcher a bit of a game breaker in multiplayer if ammo wasn't almost nonexistent for it) and the really big guns, the chain gun and squad cannon (an anti-materiel repeater) have such high recoil (excluding the alt fire for the chain gun) and are so bulky that they require a steadycam-esque harness in order to be even wielded effectively.
  • Avoided in Red Orchestra, where all guns have realistic recoil – line up every shot with your rifle, or you'll be pumping enough lead in the ceiling to make the room a radiation shelter. An unfortunate side effect of this in the first game is that the game does not make much distinction between the recoil of the full sized bolt-action or semi-auto rifles and that of the submachine guns, firing much smaller bullets but at five hundred to one thousand bullets per minute as the only handheld full-auto weapons in the game, making those SMGs completely impossible to control and nearly unusable in any capacity. Heroes of Stalingrad fixed this.
  • The tank cannon in Grand Theft Auto III causes the vehicle to roll backward slightly if it is stationary when you fire. It's possible, when driving forwards, to rotate the cannon and fire repeatedly behind you, using it as a makeshift booster and accelerating the tank to huge speeds. It is even possible to use the tank's recoil to make the tank fly: turn it around, start firing while driving, go up an incline while constantly firing.
  • In Far Cry 2 the PKM without the accuracy upgrade has so much recoil that you'd get better range with a shotgun. The real PKM fires slowly enough that even a moderately-long burst could be kept on target with less effort than the player in this game needs.
  • Averted in Hitman: Blood Money, all guns have recoil. His trusted .45 Silverballers can even be upgraded to full-automatic, and are then harder to control...add the "Akimbo" upgrade and say your good bye to your accuracy.
  • LEGO Batman avoids this, as several firearms cause recoil, and shooting things from a small ledge is not recommended. Whether the developers did this to be realistic or simply add more Fake Difficulty is up to the individual. This is probably done for stylistic reasons. LEGO Star Wars has blasters kick upwards or back from recoil. The recoil from a blaster, which is a plasma weapon, would logically be imperceptible.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Scout's Force-A-Nature unlockable shotgun takes knockback to its illogical extreme. It has so much recoil that a single shot can send ol' Scoutsy flying into the air.
  • In Eternal Darkness, recoil is usually shown with at least some realism, with all shotguns and rifles having some recoil, and the Holland & Holland elephant gun literally knocking the character to the floor if they don't take a moment to brace themselves (doing so still causes the character to take a long step back).
  • In Oni the ballistic weapons all have fairly realistic recoil (the energy weapons, on the other hand, have none...). The SCRAM Cannon, Superball gun, and grenade launcher function on the Wave Motion Cannon have little to no recoil. Go full-auto without compensation on the pistol or SMG, and you'll likely wind up shooting the ceiling.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • Diddy Kong gets recoil from his Peanut Popgun when he shoots it. He also gets more recoil the more he charges it before firing it.
    • Lucas' PK Fire has enough recoil to be considered a possible recovery technique when fired in the opposite direction.
    • Samus' charge beam also has a bigger recoil the more charged it is. Her missiles don't have nearly as much, though.
    • Despite how quickly he fires subsequent shots, the recoil is enough to make Fox' Blaster point 90 degrees upwards. Falco's, on the other hand, has very little recoil, though he does cross his arms and hold it sideways. Wolf's has very little recoil. They're all energy weapons, however, and should have none.
    • The laser gun item has the most recoil of all, even though it too fires nothing but energy, every character has to hold it with both hands and it still almost hits them in the face every time they fire. The Super Scope, however, has very little recoil and can fire rapidly, and only a little more when a shot is charged. It still only shoots light, however.
    • Averted with the Cracker Launcher. As with real life rocket launchers, the recoil is insignificantly low, and you have to look real closely to see characters twitch with each shot slightly. This allows the use of rapidly firing it.
  • In the Half-Life series the .357 Magnum revolver has ridiculous recoil and the RPG has very little. Then there's the M249 from Opposing Force, which will visibly push you backwards as it fires.
  • In Earthworm Jim, where at one point when you're hanging from a pully, the only way to move forward is to shoot in the opposite direction.
  • The blunderbuss in American McGee's Alice has a powerful recoil that knocks Alice backwards on her rump whenever she uses it, making it dangerous to use near ledges and cliffs.
  • In Cave Story, a fully-powered-up machine gun has enough recoil to enable you to fly by pointing it downward or crash down by pointing upwards, but there's no recoil in left or right.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Exodus: A Slig's submachine gun has some recoil, and this is actually a troubling aspect in the game where you have to possess a Slig in order to kill around 50+ Slogs in order to progress, but you have to watch where the Slig is being pushed back, because there's an electrical fence right behind him, and touching those things is instant death.
  • Battlefield 2 doesn't have a proper recoil system, but attempts to emulate one with some of the most exaggerated random spread in any shooter. Try firing a machine gun while standing and be amazed as bullets leave the barrel at 70-degree angles.
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company none of the weapons have discernible muzzle climb in-game (ie. the aim doesn't change). However, if you watch the gun when fired from the shoulder without using the sights, it kicks very aggressively in the shoulder. This is particularly noticeable on the automatic weapons like assault rifles, SMGs and machine guns.
    • Bad Company 2, however, seems to have fixed the climb issue, so one must be a tad more careful when aiming any automatic weapon. It's particularly noticeable on guns like the MG3, which fires so freakin' fast that you shouldn't expect to hit much of anything unless you're firing in bursts.
  • Quake II's machine gun features a stint of muzzle climb as you hold down the trigger that stabilizes after one or two seconds of continuous fire. It's usually a good idea to aim slightly below where you want the bullets to go and let the muzzle climb rake your aim up to your targetnote . The weapon's muzzle climb is absent in multiplayer.
  • In the 3rd case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the fact that the murder weapon was a .45-caliber revolver is a high point of contention, as the feeling is that it could only be used by someone with a large enough frame to take its recoil. It doesn't prevent the idiots from accusing a blind, frail 14-year old boy in the first place, mind.
  • In Jak and Daxter, Jak's BFG actually does jerk back after firing. However, that doesn't stop him from running around and shooting everything in sight with a machine gun.
  • The AVRiL from Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament III pushes the player back several feet, potentially knocking them off a platform. Oddly, the Redeemer, an even larger nuclear cruise missile launcher, and the normal Rocket Launcher, which even post-nerfs can still load and launch three rockets at a time, have minimum recoil.
  • A fully charged shot in Mega Man 5 and IV is powerful enough to push the player back by a few pixels.
    • In Mega Man 9, similar to the Earthworm Jim example, there are some zero-gravity sections in which the normally-negligible recoil from your Arm Cannon becomes your only means of controlling your movement.
    • In the Mega Man X series, you can see X being pushed slightly back with each shot in the first three games, but it's the same no matter what's being shot, whether it's a small plasma pellet, a huge energy blast or actual solid objects. It's also only noticeable when standing still and shooting. The upgraded normal shots in Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3 have no noticeable recoil, X actually moves his arms forward in a punching motion. This is the same with Zero. After the first 3, X suddenly has enough recoil from fully charged shots to push his arms over his head, despite that not being the case before, and Zero gets recoil from firing any shot.
  • In Silent Hill 3 Heather's wrists jerk from the recoil of her initial handgun, and she's thrown completely off-balance from shooting the shotgun. Curiously, the submachine gun's recoil doesn't faze her at all, despite it using the same ammunition as her handgun in real life.
  • Played straight in many arcade light-gun shooter games, but averted in a few games (such as Time Crisis) that have devices in the guns that produce some blowback. Then again, played straight in Time Crisis 3 and onwards when the same amount of blowback occurs with each usable weapon - be it handgun, machine gun, or shotgun (or if the mechanism breaks and the cheapskate arcade owner won't fix it, or if you turn off recoil in Time Crisis 4's hidden options screens).
  • S4 League has the Gauss Rifle, one of the more powerful automatic weapons. Firing it continuously causes your aim to move slightly upwards, making less effective at long range. However, it's subverted if you only fire one or two shots at a time, in which case your shots won't fire the wrong way, making the Gauss Rifle a mild case of Difficult, but Awesome.
  • All guns in Spelunky push the player back a few pixels, which can easily drop one off the edge on the slippy ice surface.
  • Justified in StarCraft. Terran Powered Armor compensates for recoil automatically (see Literature, above).
  • Usually played straight in Borderlands, but Midget Shotgunners subvert it to humorous effect. When they shoot at you they frequently get knocked flat on their backs.
    • Averted with the Unforgiven, the most powerful revolver in the game, which has recoil just shy of smacking the shooter in the face.
    • In the second game, Salvador, "The Gunzerker," has the ability to go Guns Akimbo with any two weapons the player desires, be it machine guns, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, or rocket launchers. Naturally, the stout and solid fella has no issues with recoil, though seeing as he's spent most of his life abusing steroids, it's probably justified.
    • Starting with Borderlands 2, Hyperion guns have literal inverse recoil — they have a "recoil-powered stabilizer" that actually makes the gun more accurate as you keep firing it.
  • Using any assault or battle rifle in Killing Floor when not playing as a Commando (a class that has a recoil reduction bonus) will tilt your aim a good thirty degrees upwards after even a moderate burst. Same for the Sharpshooter's weapons, particularly the M14 EBR and especially the M99.
  • Redneck Rampage is an interesting case. It's among the first — if not the very firstFirst-Person Shooter to have severe recoil and muzzle climb from an automatic weapon, namely the AK-style "huntin'" rifle. If you don't let go of the trigger, you'll end up shooting the ceiling in no time even if your target is an Alien Hulk at point-blank range; controlled bursts are mandatory when using the rifle. The .454 Casull revolver, the shotgun, and the Alien Teat Gun will push Leonard backwards a little with each shot, as does the "huntin'" rifle in addition to the muzzle climb. Very plausible considering Leonard's comically gangly.
  • In the PS2 remake of the original Wild ARMs, Rudy Roughknight displays this trope. While he's the youngest member of the cast, he uses a large Hand Cannon (with some magical properties) called an ARM as his main weapon, and despite his small frame, he wields it with one hand.note  However, this unusual strength is actually a plot point instead of a case of Muscles Are Meaningless as it's later revealed that Rudy isn't human, but an artificial construct (called a "Holmcross" in game, though it's probably meant to be "Homunculus") that were, quite literally, built to wield such weapons.
  • In Wing Commander, starfighter cannons have no recoil whether they are energy or projectile based, with one exception: the fission cannons on the Dragon have enough recoil to send your ship backwards if it's at zero throttle.
  • Counter-Strike was an early First-Person Shooter built around the concept of using realistic recoil to force players into using single shots and short bursts rather than spraying full-auto. Recoil causes any automatic weapon to become so inaccurate that holding down the trigger is only useful at extreme close range. However, there was — and still is — a catch: the recoil pattern is not random, which means it is possible to compensate them manually with a well-measured mouse gesture, and being able to compensate them is considered to be one of the things that separate casual players from professional e-sportsmen.
  • In The Walking Dead: Season Two, Pete, a man who knows how to handle more heavy-duty guns than the simple pistol Clementine, an eleven year old at this point, is used to, tells her to be careful around something like a hunting rifle because it would "knock her on her ass." She eventually does pick up a hunting rifle during a crisis, never having handled one before, and when she fires, it does indeed literally send her falling backwards onto the ground.
  • The bazooka in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Hoo boy.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja:
    • This strip subverts the trope with Gordito, a child, experiencing large blowback. Also, note the Alt Text.
    • This strip has Dr. McNinja, hanging from a rope, shoot a gun with no apparent recoil. However, the alt text states that the part where he swings and spins around from the recoil was cut out.
  • Subverted in It's Walky!: "Get a smaller gun, Joyce."
  • In Girl Genius, when three Jaegermonsters attempt to fire a Clank gun, which the sound effects indicate is meant to act like a machine gun; the one holding the weapon from behind is realistically enough slammed into the wall behind him.
    • Of course, Jagers being Jagers, the one who did the firing recovered in short order with nothing more than a broken nose ("Oooh! Lemme see!").
    • Klaus, on the other hand, has no trouble at all shooting one all by himself.
      • Possibly a different model of same gun. The one in the first example is so big it takes all three of the Jaegers to hold it up. While Klaus is so massive that he's very nearly as large as his own Clanks, the gun appears to be slightly smaller than it ought to (although it's otherwise identical, right down to the detailing).
  • Dead Winter, here. Note the Unsound Effect.
  • Done correctly in Schlock Mercenary:
    • Plasma weapons fire a turbulent beam of energy, with cavitation and eddies which virtually eliminate recoil. On the other hand, it also has the ability to magnetically couple the beam to the weapon in rocket mode. This doesn't so much give it recoil as turn it into a very small vehicle with a very dangerous wake.
    • Gauss weapons use a mag-pulse to propel projectiles at just under the speed of sound, and are advertised as recoiless. It's eventually pointed out that "recoiless" is not the same as "zero recoil," and a much-diminished Schlock briefly uses one to fly around in a large cup.

    Web Original 
  • Averted in New York Magician; Michel mentions at least once that firing his Desert Eagle, despite his extensive training with it, has still made his wrist hurt.

    Web Videos 
  • Also averted in Critical Role. Percy's BFG, Bad News, has extremely powerful recoil. He tries to fire it from a narrow platform in Episode 11, and Matt makes him roll a save to see whether or not he's knocked off. Perhaps less realistically, he uses the kickback to launch himself off the ground and into a dead sprint in Episode 22 - but hey, it's D&D, Rule of Cool.
  • Forgotten Weapons has discussed this multiple times when getting to take guns out to the range.
    • The PPSh-14 was surprisingly controllable in full-auto, because its hefty weight for an SMG absorbs much of the recoil, and its extremely high rate of fire gives it a recoil impulse that feels like one continuous push, which is easier to compensate for than a series of smaller but distinct pushes.
    • The Ultimax pioneered a "constant recoil" principle which is designed to ensure the bolt never actually impacts the rear of the receiver during the recoil process, which eliminates enough recoil that despite its lighter weight compared to other machine guns it's very easy to fire accurately in full-auto.
    • In comparison, after experience with other .308 battle rifles like the G3 and FAL, Ian figured the M14 shouldn't be as difficult to control in full-auto as the stories all suggested. Turns out, because of its semi-pistol grip putting the bore axis well above the stock's contact point with your shoulder, it really does kick as hard as the stories said.
    • The AVS-36. On the one hand, its muzzle brake is actually very well-designed, eliminating much of the actual upward kick that would make it hard to keep on-target. On the other, it's still kicking pretty hard, just backwards into the shooter; it's less difficult to keep on target than it is difficult to shoot comfortably, and he still comes to the conclusion that, like the M14, it "has no business being select-fire".

    Western Animation 
  • The Boondocks: In the first episode, "The Garden Party", Ed Wuncler III asks Riley (an 8-year old) to shoot him with his SPAS-12 combat shotgun to prove his bullet-proof armor works. Riley gladly obliges, and while the armor works, the force of the shot knocks Ed over and out a second-story window, while the recoil causes Riley to fall over and suffer an injured wrist.
  • The Simpsons,
    • When Bart and Lisa are shipped off to a military school, the instructor gives them submachine guns when they train on the firing range ("As you've transferred here from a public school, you should already have experience with smaller arms"). Whereas Bart does quite well, Lisa's gun gets stuck on autofire, the uncontrollable recoil pushing her every which way — including up off the ground when the gun is pointing downward.
    • Bart does quite well because he isn't given an SMG, but a multiple grenade launcher, a weapon with limited recoil (though how he adjusted for the grenade arc is another matter, especially the shot that destroyed Skinner's car when it was a several hour car ride away. Additionally, Lisa was given an M16 pattern assault rifle, and a full sized one at that, thus her difficulty controlling an extremely unwieldy weapon for an eight year old girl with, as shown in a later episode, the physique of a gymnast (small, with the weight of her head off-setting her balance point to her torso rather than her lower body, meaning a much higher center of gravity than most of the recruits, especially Bart who has always had a gut reminiscent of Homer's (though no way near as flanderised, ironically, excluding the episodes when he was rendered obese via snack foods.)
  • In an episode of The Transformers, "Heavy Metal War", Wheeljack tries his new "shock blast cannon", a shoulder-mounted bazooka-like weapon, out on an incoming Megatron - only to knock himself to the floor with the quip, "That's a shock, alright..." Kind of a justification, as Wheeljack built the thing himself, and as a Mad Scientist, it probably wouldn't be the first time he'd forgotten to take into account something as simple as recoil.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • The recoil from Yosemite Sam's six-shooters is strong enough to make him airborne when firing downward.
    • Seen in a number of Porky Pig shorts; one example comes from Porky's Phoney Express, where Porky is fighting Indians on horseback, and every time he fires his gun, he's knocked offscreen until the seemingly elastic reins pull him back into his saddle.
    • This also happened in Porky's Duck Hunt, when Porky fires his shotgun rapidly into the air and creates a deep trench underneath him.
    • Whenever Wile E Coyote tries to fire a cannon, it's more than likely that the cannon will take off in reverse (with poor Wile E. in tow) while the cannonball remains in place.
  • In Steven Universe, Peridot re-engineers an injector into a cannon capable of firing a boulder of 1 meter diameter well past observable range, and this trope is fully used while she demonstrates it. Then when it comes time to fire it at a target, she gets arrested by the Newton's Third Law Police and she flies right into into the cliff behind her, à la Carnivorous vulgaris.
  • One Commander McBragg story from Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales pretty much defies this Trope. The Commander's story involves him testing a new rifle with an incredibly powerful recoil, one which knocks him dozens of feet backwards no matter how he tries to brace himself, and even sends him crashing through a natural cave wall when he tries to brace himself that way. (Ironically, when he falls into a deep pit with walls too smooth to climb, he uses the gun's recoil to escape, shooting downward and propelling him up and out.)

    Real Life 
  • From World War II and on, anti-tank weaponry were referred to as "recoilless rifles", since the traditional anti-tank rifle had so much recoil that it was impractical. While almost Exactly What It Says on the Tin, recoilless rifles fire normal artillery shells from a rifled barrel, but use special perforated cartridges and a Venturi chamber to propel the combustion gases out the back at a high velocity, canceling out the recoil force. They are a modern evolution of the old back-to-back recoilless cannons of the 10th century.
  • Though technically recoilless, many anti-tank weapons still have some recoil – in some that are fired from the shoulder (like the Swedish Carl Gustav), it can be severe enough to loosen the gunner's teeth if firing several shots in rapid succession. Another exception was the British PIAT system; this was a shoulder-fired spigot mortar that used a heavy spring to launch its anti-tank bomb. The spring delivered a punishing kick to the operator's shoulder, which was just one of the reasons the PIAT was disliked by British troops. Another reason was that the projectile was held in the tube by gravity. That's right: if you aimed it so the muzzle wasn't at least horizontal, the projectile would slide out of the tube. Yet another was that the heavy spring used to launch the projectile meant that it was extremely difficult to reload once it had been fired; it was supposed to re-cock itself using the force of the recoil, but since there was so much recoil, most of the time the weapon itself undid that by knocking the user flat on his ass.
  • In the "Ammo" episode of the History series "Lock 'n Load", R. Lee Ermey points out the effects of recoil when shooting a Barret .50 cal sniper rifle - he hadn't allowed for it properly, and the scope hit him in the face and cut him on the bridge of his nose. This and the black eye mentioned above, frequently accompanied by a nasty arc-shaped cut right below the eyebrow, are known as "scope bite" and were a common injury suffered by first-time big-game hunters on safari in Kenya "back in the day", due to using big-bore, hard-recoil bolt-action rifles like the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum or .458 Winchester Model 70 African with a telescopic sight with insufficient eye relief. According to the late Col. Jeff Cooper, the professional hunters who led the safaris referred to this as "Kaibab eye", and few people who ended up needing stitches for the cut made the same mistake twice (most often, they took the scope off and used the rifle's iron sights exclusively after such an experience). The professional hunters, by comparison, rarely bothered with telescopic sights on their "working rifles" in these heavy calibers, as they would usually only shoot to finish off an animal that had been wounded and not killed by the client's shot, and most shooting at large African game (rhino, Cape buffalo, etc.) was done at ranges under 50 yards, where a telescopic sight was more of a hindrance than a help anyway.
  • Continuing Television Is Trying to Kill Us line, one Desert Eagle .50 + one lady who expected it to work like prop guns = something painful. The recoil of Desert Eagle itself is actually depending on the cartridge: when using standard .357 Magnum, the recoil is light due to the sheer mass of the gun. But loading it with .50 AE or .44 Magnum/Cor-bon without proper training equals limp wrist, which equals the Eagle soaring back and either over the shooter's shoulder (having slid out of their grip), or, in this case, into the shooter's face.
  • This trope's name is taken quite literally with the Halbek Device, a special muzzle brake designed by the Rhodesians. It was so efficient at compensating for muzzle climb that it made their FAL rifles recoil downwards rather than upwards.
  • In basic rifle training it's not uncommon for a drill or other training cadre to demonstrate the M16's lack of recoil by firing it off their nuts. Yes, you can place the stock in your crotch and fire full auto downrange without injuring yourself. Note: this is due to M16 using the relatively small 5.56x45mm cartridge and being designed to have an easily-controllable recoil during full-auto fire, as well as allowing soldiers to carry more ammunition due to its lower weight. Crotch-firing with firearms using bigger 7.62mm cartridges like the FAL should be reserved for people aiming for Darwin awards. Sometimes replaced by the Drill Sergeant volunteering a Private to stand still while the Drill Sergeant jams the buttstock of the weapon against his nose and fires. Civilian rifles designed for large cartridges (.308, .30-06, .45-70, 9.3x74) and then re-chambered by the factory in .223 Remington (civilian version of the 5.56mm NATO) or .243 Winchester calibers may even dispense the recoil pad altogether and still not generate enough recoil to feel a distinctive kick, thanks to the gun's heavy weight (as made for the larger cartridges) dampening the recoil. This can occasionally lead to situations where people with military training end up suffering some of the already mentioned injuries when they try to use a rifle that does produce a significant kick without specific instruction.
    • Completely inverted in the case of Gary Tuchman, a CNN reporter who did a piece on the AR-15 after the Parkland school shooting. Just watching the clip of Tuchman firing the rifle (here), it almost seems like he's intentionally making the rifle seem like it has more recoil than it really does. Breaking it down, he's holding the weapon out in front of him, instead of in his shoulder or in any manner with a proper cheek weld, he's visibly jerking the trigger, and it almost looks like his eyes are closed. And that man standing behind the reporter? That's retired Army Lt. General Mark Hertling. It would be easy to imagine Hertling was getting a kick out of the spectacle going on in front of him, but he also drops such ignorant statements such as the oft-mocked among the gun community "full semi-automatic" capability of the AR-15, so who knows.
  • In the days of frontloaders, cannons really did have a harsh recoilnote , meaning that every time you used one, it rolled back. This made it a great retreating tactic occasionally used in the American Civil War, where retreating Union soldiers often took their cannons with them by firing them at the Confederates because they didn't have the manpower to move them otherwise. Of course, if the ground was soft and/or wet, the guns had a tendency to bury themselves up to their spokes if they weren't wheeled forward after each recoil. On the other hand, it's annoying to have to wheel the thing back each time, so prepared artillery positions usually had shallow pits dug underneath the cannon so that they would roll back after firing. This characteristic makes cannons easier to reload on ships and fortifications: the cannon slams back against its rigging when fired, is reloaded, and then is lugged back out the gunport to fire again, reducing the workload for the guncrew by half. Usually this is depicted correctly because it's awesome. The development of recoil-compensation mechanisms for artillery was one of the major advances in World War I: it allowed for fast, accurate fire, greatly improving the effectiveness of artillery.
  • The AA-12 automatic shotgun was specifically designed to absorb most of its own recoilnote . Given the amount of recoil a shotgun (especially a 12-gauge one) produces from only one shot, this was necessary to begin with just to make a fully-automatic one practical weapon, but it would be a welcome feature on any gun. See it in action here.
  • The American-180 has little to no recoil despite its very high rate of fire (1,200 rounds per minute), presumably because it uses .22 LR rounds. This made the submachine gun deceptively effective because the lack of recoil allowed the shooter to easily put dozens of the small rounds into a single target. The 180 could eat through body armor or many kinds of cover simply by hammering on the same spot repeatedly until it gave way.
  • The Singaporean Ultimax 100 machine gun has very low recoil due to its implementation of the “constant recoil” system, in which the bolt carrier group does not impact the rear of the receiver. Instead, it stops moments before due to the opposing force of the return springs, reducing recoil greatly. Another weapon, the Knight’s Armament Light Assault Machine Gun (yes, that’s its real name) also makes use of the constant recoil principle and was designed by Eugene Stoner himself. Its recoil is so light that the weapon can even be fired like a pistol in full auto (see a demonstration here).
  • The realities behind this trope put the lie to that old practice of military firing squads loading blanks into one rifle, some rifles, or all but a single rifle. According to the legend, this is to make it easier on the riflemen tasked with the difficult job of executing a brother in arms, since none of them would know who actually fired the fatal shot. Sounds mighty poignant and poetic, but anyone who's ever fired a rifle in any military chambering will know that it's nonsense; the telltale thump from the live rounds would be a dead giveaway to whoever ended up shooting them, while the men who fired blanks would know right away from the lack of felt recoil. To be clear, this practice has been done in real life, but the reasoning behind it is completely baseless.
  • While not 100% this trope, there's a bit of this in handguns. Small, low caliber guns can often have more felt recoil than bigger, larger caliber guns even though you're dealing with more energy in the latter case. This is because the less mass also means less inertia to overcome and therefore more energy transmitted to the shooter (and that most small pistols use simple "blowback" operation that absorbs less recoil than the more common locked-breech system). This fact is often a surprise to new shooters who assume that a smaller pistol will be easier to handle. This often leads to tragedy when parents give their children 'low power' pistol as starter guns. What begins as a well intentioned attempt to teach their children respect and safety in regards to firearms can quickly lead to severe injuries or, in some cases, the death of the firing individual.
  • The High Impulse Weapon System is a recoil damped shoulder-fired weapon, approximately equivalent to a mortar round. The video notable includes both someone firing it who is used to the recoil, and someone who isn't.
  • The Nock Gun, a seven barrelled flintlock musket which turned out to be Awesome, but Impractical. The recoil was so great that people frequently wound up with broken shoulders after firing.
  • In a very dark case of this, a gun enthusiast took his son, who was no older than eight years, to a firing range to fire a gun for the first time, where the kid was handed a full-automatic Micro-Uzi. His older son actually warned his father about it being too powerful, but the father said for the kid to shoot it anyways. So, he did, and while he was able to keep the gun from flying out of his hands, the recoil caused the boy's forearms to rotate back and face the gun toward his head without ceasing to fire. He died from a shot to the face.
  • A very similar case to the above occurred in 2014 at a shooting range in Las Vegas, when a nine-year-old girl was allowed to fire a Mini-Uzinote  on full automatic. That time it was the shooting instructor who got a bullet in the face.
  • There are many many videos on youtube in which 'responsible' gun owners give either children or young women powerful guns to fire without preparing them for the recoil. In most cases they are lucky to get off with bruises and sprains, though as the examples above show, the results can be lethal. Actual responsible gun owners really hate it when people do thisnote .

Alternative Title(s): The Law Of Inverse Recoil