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One Bullet Left

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"In a man to man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine."
Erwin Rommelnote 

The hero has stormed the enemy base. He has killed mooks, blown stuff up, and said witty one-liners. This is it: the final showdown of Hero vs. Big Bad. Mr Villain holds the heroine close, threatening to kill the Damsel in Distress. She cries out to her beloved hero. The hero gathers his resolve and checks his pistol's magazine. He only has one bullet left.

Wait, what? One bullet left?

Oh never mind, he's totally gonna kill the bad guy.

This trope is named after the uncanny attempt at drama of giving the hero only a single chance to win the battle, i.e. one bullet left. You can be sure of it, you can count on it, you could bet money on it if anyone would actually take that bet. That shot is going to hit its target, even if it's a hard shot. It may have been actually suspenseful at some point, but by now everyone has seen this one done and done again.

One Bullet Left may also occur at a distance, as the bad guys are about to execute someone important to the hero, who has one shot left in their sniper rifle.

May happen during a Darkened Building Shootout.

See Also: Bottomless Magazines & Counting Bullets. If there is more than one target for said bullet, both of them critical, that's under Sadistic Choice or Friend-or-Idol Decision. Not to be confused with leaving someone a pistol with a single round remaining, and the implications thereof.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Sasha Blouse ends up facing a Titan armed with only a bow and arrows. After missing the first two shots and taking out one of its eyes with the third, she has one arrow left. Rather than risk firing it and missing, she leaps up and stabs it in the other eye with the last arrow, then escapes.
  • Train Heartnet in Black Cat has one Oricalcum bullet, and the only thing that can defeat Creed. He almost loses it when he drops it whilst falling, but catches it of course, and his aim is true. In the final arc of the anime as well, when the illusion of his master Zangine tells him to kill him or die, and gives him a single bullet to defend himself with. Train uses the bullet, but not against him, instead to destroy the receptor controlling Eden.
  • Subverted in Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. Deep in the floating city Pazu and Muska face each other down with guns raised. The observant, however, already knows both our hero's and the villain's guns are empty.
    • However, Muska has reloads. Fortunately, the battle isn't decided with guns.
  • The Tachikoma in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are among the worlds best killing machines that can deal with anything short of a heavy tank without breaking a sweat. But when most of them are dismantled and the rest of them had been refitted for civilian work, they had to rescue Batou from a special forces hit squad with nothing but a single ancient mortar round a senile old veteran had stashed in a shoe box as their only weapon. When they arrive at the scene, Batou had already killed most of the attackers, except for one last soldier in a huge suit of powered armor who was crushing him under his giant foot. After chasing him into the nearby forest while losing one of their own, the last two try everything they can to make their one single shot count. But as a subversion, with a weak "Pfshhh..." the propellant fizzles without ejecting the mortar, and the last two Tachikoma get immediately riddled with gaping bullet holes. But being Tachikoma, they still don't give up after some encouraging words, one of them holds the powered armor guy in place while the other jumps at him, crushing the mortar barrel between their bodies, and detonating the mortar.
  • Golgo 13: Duke Togo teams up with another hitman to take down a CIA chemical warfare lab. As they're about to leave, the other hitman reports in and gets a contract to kill Duke Togo. He says he's been Counting Bullets and knows they've both got one left and it becomes a test of endurance — they're both even in skill, so who will make the first move? Golgo noticed that there was a third weapon - a knife - on the beach they were dueling on, so his move was calculated to get him close enough to use that after both parties wasted their shot.
  • Is a major part of the Go Shogun movie.
  • In Gosick, Victorique, of all people, ends up with a single bullet left in a gun; though she needs it not to kill someone, but to disable the bomb her train is heading towards. Halfway-subverted, though, because both she and Kujo know that there's absolutely no chance of the shot missing. In fact, she may have wasted the rest of the bullets on purpose...
  • In Gun Blaze West during a gun duel, Viu deliberately empties his gun of all but a single bullet in the belief that because he only has one bullet, his focus will improve and make that one shot count more than the others. It does.
  • Gunx Sword has an exaggerated example. Wendy's revolver, inherited from her brother, starts out with one bullet... and stays that way for the entire series. Fittingly, she uses it on said brother in the finale.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: During the fight between Mista and Sale, Mista is left with only one bullet. Proudly announcing it as if he was going to take full advantage of this one shot, Mista is, in fact, aiming to use Sex Pistols on Sale's own bullet to defeat him.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: During their fight with the Grand Gundam, Chibodee runs out of bullets in his Gundam's revolvers, and George is down to a single Attack Drone. He provides the distraction while Chibodee uses the Attack Drone as a bullet to make the million-to-one shot that takes out the Grand Gundam.
  • Observant viewers who count the number of shots fired in the final episode of Psycho-Pass will know that there is only one bullet left in the revolver when Akane needs to disable the Big Bad's escape vehicle. She makes the shot.
  • Trigun: Vash has used up five of his six shots to make a giant projectile veer off course from a group of incapacitated civilians. Vash ejects the empty cartridges (even saying "Only one bullet left, doc."), spins the barrel, locks it without looking, and shoots - he picked the right chamber. Somewhat justified in that Vash isn't really human and may or may not have psychic powers.
    • Used epically in the Final Battle; both Vash and Knives end up with one bullet each in a random chamber of their respective revolvers, and proceed to play an odd variation of Russian Roulette with their guns in each other's faces.

    Comic Books 
  • Irredeemable. Plutonian lights a magic candle that will turn him mortal as long as it burns, so he can have sex with Bette Noir. She secretly keeps the last of the wax, and after Plutonian goes rogue fashions it into a single bullet, the only thing that can kill him. However as she fires it, Qubit uses his technology to teleport the bullet into the head of their foe Orion, whom he considers a greater threat. Everyone's pissed off at Qubit for this, but it's later revealed that he used the same technology to retrieve the bullet after it exited Orion's head.
  • XIII: While on the run from a group of hitmen, XIII finds an old but working revolver. He takes out one hitman, waits for the other to fire a burst, then...
    -BANG click click-
    Hitman: You fired your last bullet, amigo.
    XIII: Two empty chambers in the cylinder before the last bullet, amigo. Must be the most threadbare trick in the Far West.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011) would not be complete as the Troperiffic romp that it is without this. It's invoked in a rather cool manner, too:
    Tintin: The bad news is, I've only got one bullet.
    Capt. Haddock: What's the good news?!
    Tintin: I've got one bullet. [shoots down plane]
  • Played with in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where Victor the hunter has to kill the were-rabbit with a bullet made of pure gold ("Twenty-Four Karat!") and only has three. He thinks he kills the were-rabbit with the first one, but it turns out that he shot a disguise instead. Once he realizes this, he tries to calm down the crowd by firing his gun in the air...
    Victor: Now I've only got two... ARGH! I've only got one bullet left.
  • In Mulan when Mulan fires the last rocket at Shen Yu, it goes over him. "He was three feet in front of you!". She was in fact aiming for the mountain behind the Huns in an attempt at starting an avalanche. It works.
  • Rango: A running theme during the movie. When he first arrives in town, Rango lies about killing seven men with one bullet, and then manages to (accidentally) kill the hawk using just one bullet. Then, during the climax of the film, Rango confronts Rattlesnake Jake with only one bullet left in his gun. After Rattlesnake Jake backs down, the mayor forces Rango to hand over his gun, but Rango stealthily removes the bullet. He ends up using it to free himself and Beans from the bank vault they've been locked in.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A different take on this trope is in 8mm when the hero, whose gun has been unloaded and left on a table, only has time to load a single round in the chamber. And he's facing two criminals. While handcuffed to a desk.
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). Leigh notes that she has two bullets left in her revolver and suggests she use them to kill herself and Wilson. Wilson is determined to go down fighting, so tells her to shoot the first two gang members who break in "and after that get inventive." When the police turn up to rescue the survivors (who have also run out of bullets) they're all holding makeshift clubs while Leigh is holding her revolver by the barrel. Bishop meanwhile has three bullets left to explode an acetylene tank they've set up as a Booby Trap, but the corridor he's firing down is filled with smoke from the gang throwing molotov cocktails.
  • At the end of the western Bad Girls Kid Jarrett is apparently out of ammo, so Cody pops one bullet out of her gun and gives it to him, saying "Pick it up, put it in, die like a man."
  • Doubled in the final battle in Battle: Los Angeles. The final shot in the artillery barrage is coming into to destroy the Attack Drone command center, an alien ship is moving to intercept it, and Tech Sergeant Santos has a one shot AT4 to try and destroy it. She shoots it down, and the artillery shell destroys the commander center.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). Dantes is facing off with Mondego who has a flintlock pistol, but Dante points out that he only has one shot and it won't be enough to stop him. Mondego replies that in that case he'd better aim where the shot will do the most damage, and shoots Mercedes instead.
  • Thoroughly justified in The Crossing. Bad weather has forced the Continental Army to use bayonets rather than shooting because the powder's all wet, except for one soldier who sealed his musket—a weapon that has one shot anyway—with candle wax. He's the only guy in the army who can shoot, and he uses the shot on Colonel Rall, mortally wounding him and ending the battle.
  • In Dead in Tombstone, Guerrero is pinned down and out of ammo during his gunfight with Snake. He finds one bullet left in his ammo belt and uses it to deliver a Moe Greene Special to Snake.
  • The climax of the 1967 spaghetti western Death Rides a Horse. The hero has tracked down and killed the men who murdered his family when he was a child, except for one, who turns out to be his mentor, now out of bullets. The hero gives him one bullet, having a single bullet left in his own revolver. However the man just rides off in a Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You trope, and the hero's bullets kills another outlaw who'd been about to shoot him.
  • The ends of both Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance. At the end of the first movie, John McClane actually had two bullets left, and exactly two bad guys left to kill. Played with, in that McClane doesn't kill Hans Gruber with either of them — Gruber dies when he falls off of the Nakatomi Building. At the end of the third, he had two bullets left in a small gun, and two bad guys in a helicopter with a BFG. He shoots a power cable which wraps around the tail rotor, causing the helicopter to crash and explode.
  • The climax in Dirty Harry. Apparently the Scorpio Killer did feel lucky, that punk... he wasn't.
    Harry Callahan: Ah-ah. Now, I know what you're thinkin'. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kinda lost track myself. But bein' as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
  • The final battle of Doom begins with this exchange:
    Sarge: What you got left?
    Reaper: [shrug] Half a clip. You?
    Sarge: [patting his BFG] I've round.
  • In Dredd: Dredd, when cornered by corrupt Judges and out of standard ammo, takes a desperation shot with his last remaining round: a Hi-Ex. The victim's head explodes, making sure he won't be a problem. Unfortunately, this also clues in the last one that his gun is now empty.
  • Final Justice, an MST3K fodder film, plays with this when Palermo and Sheriff Geronimo have their excessively long chase sequence. Both of them have six-shot revolvers and fire potshots at each other near the start, but as the chase continues Geronimo tells another agent - "We're both out of bullets. I'm gonna try and bluff him." Later on, they take aim at each other in an empty street - and both guns click, leading to the next part of the chase scene...
  • Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name does this at the end of A Fistful of Dollars. He has one bullet left in his six-shooter, while the bad guy has one bullet in a rifle. Clint might have been lucky, but considering how badass the MWNN is, he was probably just that good. The point was that both of them have one bullet, but they have to load their weapons of choice first. And Clint's six shooter is faster to load than the Big Bad's rifle. Or So I Heard.
  • In The Flight of the Phoenix (2004), the protagonists have 5 cartridges to start the rebuilt plane's engine - the first three times it stalls, the fourth cartridge is expended to clean out the cylinders, and the last one, shockingly enough, works perfectly. (The 1965 version subverts this by having the engine start with the sixth cartridge of seven.)
  • In Freejack: Descending in an elevator to escape the building, the hero and his girl knows they will face guards on the way out. He looks at his LED ammo counter, sees it read "01", and remarks, "Think I can get them all to stand in a line?". Gilligan Cut to the Mooks all lining up in an impromptu Firing Squad. But, at the last second, the elevator is called to the Big Bad's penthouse instead.
  • The Hobbit. In "The Desolation of Smaug" it's revealed that Laketown has only a single bolt of black iron capable of killing the dragon Smaug. When last used, several bolts failed to penetrate Smaug's thick scales, though one did knock loose a scale creating a vulnerability. If you can hit it on the first go...
    • For bonus points, the black arrows can only fired from a wind lance and there's only one of those left too. Smaug takes it out before it can be used, but Bard, the guy who kills Smaug, turns out to be pretty good at coming up with Plan Bs.
  • The Host (2006), where it is subverted. Turns out there were no bullets left, Gang-du just miscounted.
  • In Independence Day, the trope becomes "One Missile Left". By the time the humans realise they need to attack the weakpoint of the alien ship in order to bring it down, the only guy left with the ability to exploit their new weakness is the insane crop-dusting veteran. Then his missile malfunctions and never leaves his aircraft. Fortunately for the human race the missile was still set to go off, and Ramming Always Works.
  • Iron Eagle: By the time that Doug Masters is forced to face his nemesis, Col. Nakesh, his F-16 is down to a few hundred rounds of ammunition and a single missile... which misses. Nakesh has just enough time for some Evil Gloating before it is revealed that the missile is a heat seeker, which comes around for a second pass...
  • James Bond:
    • The Man with the Golden Gun. Happens with the final confrontation between Bond and Scaramanga; the latter only has a single-shot weapon, and Nick Nack taunts Bond with the fact that "You have only three bullets left" at one point.
      Bond: My six bullets against your one?
      Scaramanga: I only need one.
    • Valentin Zukovsky in The World Is Not Enough has precisely one bullet in his walking-cane gun, and has to decide between killing Electra and freeing Bond. He chooses the latter.
  • Kate loads a single round into her pistol for the final confrontation. Not due to lack of ammo, but because she's dying and is too exhausted to do any more, so knows she will only have one shot at this.
  • The Killer has hitman Ah Jong living by these words: "I always save the last bullet, either for myself or for my enemy." The first time he says this, it's when he's demanding of his handler Fung Sei to know who took out the Contract on the Hitman, and after a shootout in his apartment where Ah Jong defends himself and Fung Sei, it's revealed that he indeed had one more bullet. Unfortunately, later on when Fung Sei goes to Wong Hoi's residence to get Ah Jong's money and gets the living shit kicked out of him, he doesn't keep a final bullet, and Ah Jong has to Mercy Kill him when he is gunned down by Wong's men at the church.
  • The Killing Room (2009). Three men are locked in a room for a psychological experiment that quickly turns lethal. It's implied that only one man is to be left standing. At one stage, a gun is thrown into the room. One man grabs it to shoot the other two, who tell him to check the magazine. It's empty, so there's just one round in the chamber. Turns out the reason there's one bullet is to identify the man who's willing to commit suicide in a Heroic Sacrifice, as the whole idea is to brainwash people to become suicide bombers. When he tries to shoot himself the weapon won't fire and his companion is terminated instead.
  • An Australian movie The Last Bullet (1995) is about the Sole Survivor of an Australian unit in World War II versus the Japanese Cold Sniper who killed the others, each down to only one round.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. Max has a scoped SKS rifle with only three rounds, and aims into the night toward the oncoming searchlight of the Bullet Farmer's vehicle (who, as his name indicates, has plenty of ammo). He uses two shots to no effect, so hands the rifle to Furiosa, who braces the rifle on Max's shoulder and fires a shot that shatters the searchlight, blinding the Bullet Farmer.
  • The end of the shootout/rescue scene near the start of Mission: Impossible III. Of course, Hunt had been shooting excellently up into that point anyway, and wouldn't have checked his ammo if Ferris hadn't asked him how much he had left.
    Farris: How many bullets do you have left?
    Ethan: Enough. *shoots the last goon* Now I'm out.
  • From the 2000 film The Patriot, Benjamin Martin deliberately saves a special bullet made from one of his murdered son's lead soldiers especially for the Big Bad who killed him, Colonel Tavington. Subverted in that while he does get his final, poetic justice-y shot in on Tavington, a cannonball landing nearby throws off his aim and merely wings the villain, leading to a rather fierce duel between Benjamin and the now very pissed-off Tavington in the midst of the battle.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow was given a gun with a single bullet inside (all guns back then would have been single-shot) by Barbossa and the ship's crew after they mutinied against him and marooned him on an island, so he that could commit suicide. By the time the storyline begins, Jacks hasn't fired the gun for 10 years, because he's saving the bullet specially for Barbossa. It's a literal Chekhov's Gun!
  • An Invoked Trope in The Quick and the Dead. Russell Crowe's character, preacher and ex-outlaw Cort, is always given only one bullet before each gunfight... so he won't try to shoot his way out of town and escape. This causes problems when one of the men he shoots doesn't go down from a single round.
  • Chow Yun-Fat embodies this trope in The Replacement Killers when, at the end of a Hong Kong-style gunfight, he comes face-to-face with his former employer and slaps his last clip in which has just One Bullet Left — the dragon-marked bullet that he promptly uses to end him.
  • One bad guy tries to invoke this in The Sabata Trilogy: thinking that Sabata has fired his gun dry, he makes a dive for his rifle... only to have Sabata shoot it away using a second gun hidden in the first one's grip.
  • Played with in the conclusion of Saving Private Ryan. Wounded and immobile, Captain Miller pulls out his sidearm and fires it at an incoming tank. The bullets bounce off harmlessly until he fires the last one and the tank explodes. He then looks up in disbelief and sees the close air support that had really taken out the tank.
  • Shanghai Noon has this in probable homage to A Fistful of Dollars. Roy O'Bannon has one bullet left in his gun, and says as much to his corrupt sheriff nemesis. Out of a "sense of fair play", the bad guy mimes emptying his still fully-loaded revolvers, leading to a final shootout with Roy's one bullet vs. the bad guy's 12. Roy gets him right through the heart — and through his badge. By the way, this is the only time in the movie Roy successfully shot anything. When he tells Jackie Chan's character, he doesn't believe him at all. Roy notes that the baddie's bullets all went through the robe he was wearing without leaving a scratch on him.
    Bad Guy: Now how the hell did that happen? [collapses]
  • Played for Laughs at the end of the very Black Comedy Six Shooter. After an extremely violent and depressing day that began with the death of his wife, the protagonist takes home a revolver with two bullets in it. He's about to put one of them through his head when he remembers their pet rabbit, which will presumably starve if both owners are dead, so before proceeding he cradles the rabbit in his arms and shoots its head off. As he goes to use the other bullet on himself, he drops the gun, misses his shot, and is left sitting there widowed and holding his headless rabbit.
    "Jesus... what a fuckin' day."
  • A different take on this is shown in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), where the Plucky Girl Reporter has one shot left in her roll of film. In the end, however, she forgoes the chance to photograph the scoop of the century to instead take a shot of her Love Interest...only for him to reveal she's left the lens cap on her camera.
  • In Stagecoach (1939) the white people are on the verge of being taken alive by Indians and a gambler saves his last bullet to spare a lady "a fate worse than death". There's another woman on the coach but she's a prostitute so he doesn't seem to care. He's just about to pull the trigger when he's shot and mortally wounded, sparing her. They are saved by the calvary moments later.
  • Subverted in Top Gun, in which Maverick is sitting on one missile and facing 3 MIGs at the end of the climactic air battle... And then the MIGs retreat.
  • The pipe bombs in Tremors. Val kills the last Graboid with the last pipebomb, although he uses it in a slightly different way than expected.
  • Subverted in Tremors 2: Aftershocks: the heroes are trying to reach the last working vehicle in the area and escape a Shrieker pack, only to find the route blocked by one of the creatures. Burt Gummer has only one (enormous) bullet left for his (equally-enormous) rifle. He successfully shoots the Shrieker, but the bullet then punches right through a stone wall, several barrels, and wipes out the escape-vehicle's engine.
  • Double Subverted in Wild Wild West: Artemis Gordon has a derringer with only one shot and only one chance to make an impossible shot to save Jim West's life. He fires, and misses. The villain delays killing West to mock Artemis for his failure, especially after the 'can I kill someone?' soul-searching he engaged in beforehand. Unfortunately, for the villain, Artemis wasn't aiming directly at him.
  • The escaping tank crew in T34 was only able to scrounge up six shells for their tank before they staged their breakout. By the time they make their final stand against the leader of the pursuing soldiers, they've used up five of them, while the enemy's tank has nearly a full loadout.

  • In the Dean Ing novel Cat House, a compilation of short stories he wrote for Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars books, a human picks up a Kzinti energy rifle, smearing blood over the 'insufficient charge' light to hide it, and captures a Kzin. Having given his parole, the Kzin asks about the rifle. The human says "It's not charged," and points it upward, pulling the trigger to demonstrate. As they watch the hut burn from outside, the Kzin mentions that there is a world of difference between insufficient charge and no charge.
  • Discworld:
    • Guards! Guards! plays with this, with the characters being Genre Savvy and arguing about how a "one in a million shot" always works. So they get rid of all their extra arrows, and set up an increasingly convoluted way to fire the arrow to make sure that the odds of success are exactly one in a million. note 
    • In Thief of Time, the newly incarnated Auditors are so unused to physical sensation that chocolate will kill them. After the heroes think they've run out of suitable sweets, Miss Susan notes that there is generally one left among the empty wrappers.note 
  • The Hobbit: Bard shoots the dragon with the only arrow he has left. Although more justified in this case, as the one left is also a special one inherited through generations, and just before the shot Bard is told the dragon's weak spot.
  • Subverted in The Lost World (1995) when a character is told that she only has One Bullet Left. After she makes the impossible shot, she checks the rifle and finds that there are still more bullets—she was told there was one left to motivate her.
  • In the novel The Rescuers by Margery Sharp, Bernard (a mouse) attempts to stop the human villain from climbing a ladder. Having failed with a sword and an axe, he throws the last weapon in his arsenal, a tiny dagger. The sharp sting of the knife causes the villain to lose his grip on the ladder and come crashing to the ground.
  • A Simple Monitoring has a death game in which each contestant receives a handgun with one bullet, with the last one standing being the winner. This forces them to use various tricks such as playing a recording of a gunshot to make the others think they've used their one bullet, pretending that an empty gun is still loaded, or faking their own death by changing their one bullet into a blank.
  • In Stalin's Ghost, a character has to reassemble a damaged automatic pistol while Arkady Renko fights for his life against an assassin. He can't find a missing piece which means the weapon can't chamber another round once the first has been fired, so he has to make it count.
  • Played with in Tyrannosaur Canyon: the hero scavenges a gun with only one bullet. It burns a hole in his pocket for several chapters until he finally gets close enough...and misses. He still manages to make it work.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12: Late in the series' first season, Reed has the lesson of the importance of following direct orders to the letter brought home to him when, during a stakeout of a warehouse burglary, he is asked to not shoot unless absolutely necessary or when told. When the whole standoff ends and the robbers are captured ... Reed's gun has just one bullet left. (The argument being that, any time it takes – however fast – for the officers to reload would give the suspected robbers the opening they need to shoot and kill the officers.)
  • In Bones, episode "The Mummy in the Maze", Booth has a fight with a guy using a shotgun who has infantry military experience. Booth is using Brennan's gun because "it's too big for me," and we get this exchange: "How the hell does a guy with military training miss with a scattergun? What were you, Navy?" "Infantry! Which is how I know you're carrying the .50 caliber 500. That's 5 shots... and by my count, you only got 1 left!" A minute later, cue Booth killing him with the last shot.
    Booth: One shot. One hell of shot.
  • Interesting example from Breaking Bad: Hank Schraeder has been cornered by one of Tuco's Cousins. He's about to shoot Hank, who's out of ammo, but then decides that would be too easy. Since Hank's immobilized, he calmly walks to where he left his chrome fire axe. Hank discovers that a bullet has fallen out of the Cousin's pocket (a free sample from the arms dealer earlier in the episode) just out of arm's reach. He manages to get it, loads his gun with it and kills the Cousin with a headshot, just as he's about to bring the axe down.
  • This happens on Burn Notice quite a bit due to various circumstances, whether in a struggle for an enemy's gun, stealing a bullet to use as a distraction, or as a handy way of breaching a barrier.
  • At the end of the episode "Revelations" of Criminal Minds, Reid pulls this trope off with a revolver. (It's thematic, and also lampshaded.)
  • In Get Smart, there was this approximate exchange:
    "Don't try to bluff, Max. Your finger is out of bullets"
    "No it's not, it's got one bullet left. See?" <bang>
    • Another episode plays with this trope - all episode Max says that his contract expires at midnight and that he won't re-sign without more benefits. In the middle of a gunfight with a K.A.O.S agent on one side and Max and his boss on the other, Max stands up and lets the agent know that he's on strike. His boss then grudgingly agrees to Max's terms while Max and the agent talk about what benefits K.A.O.S. offers. After Max resigns, he tells the agent to go ahead and shoot him, and the agent's gun clicks. Max then disarms and detains the agent while his boss asks why Max let the agent try and shoot him. Max says that the agent fired six shots, but his boss only heard five shots. Max picks up the gun, pulls the trigger, and it fires - then Max sheepishly says, "Six."
  • Lost:
    • Subverted in "Tabula Rasa", when many of the Losties think the marshal should be euthanized. Sawyer remarks on the appropriateness of there being one bullet left in the gun. Unfortunately, Sawyer shoots the marshal in the chest, which doesn't kill him and makes his suffering worse.
    • When Sawyer, Michael and Jin are captured by the Tailies, Sawyer's gun had a single bullet left over from the shark incident. Turns out to be very important several episodes later when Ana Lucia uses it up (accidentally) shooting and killing Shannon.
  • The Punisher (2017). In "My Brothers Keeper", Frank Castle finds himself up against Billy Russo armed with a submachine gun with twin drum magazine, while Frank has only the round in the chamber of his pistol.
  • Supernatural: After two full seasons of buildup, the heroes are hunting "the yellow-eyed demon" armed with six blessed bullets. By the time they catch up to the demon with the gun, they're down to one. Dean doesn't miss.
  • In the first version of Zorro, there's one episode where the title character is faced with a gang of outlaws, and only has a single bullet. He manages to buy some time by asking them "Have you already decided which of you is going to receive it?"

  • Subverted in Nick Cave's "O'Malley's Bar", after the narrator has slaughtered everyone in the bar and the police are waiting for him outside.
    Well, I checked the chambers of my gun
    Saw I had one final bullet left
    My hand, it looked almost human
    As I raised it bravely to my head
    "Drop your weapon and come on out!
    Keep your hands above your head!"

    I had one long hard think about dying
    And did exactly what they said.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Big Eyes, Small Mouth has this as one of the Gun Bunny abilities. It's based off of the "Dramatic Ammunition Rules", which say you have infinite ammo until the GM decides it would be dramatically appropriate for you to be out; One Bullet Left, obviously, gives you one last shot after that.
  • In the Pulp Role-Playing Game Spirit of the Century, Ammo normally isn't tracked; the game just assumes you brought enough and lets you get on with the fun. But if you bought a certain ability, you can declare at any time that you have one bullet left- you'll be out of ammo after your next shot, but that last bullet gets huge bonuses.
  • Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction Comic Book. A character with the One Shot Left stunt may declare at any time that their ranged weapon only has one shot left. This gives their next shot a +3 bonus. (This is the same stunt as in Spirit of the Century above, right down to the exact wording; the two games share the same basic system, although with Starblazer Adventures being a slightly later iteration there are some differences in detail as well as genre-specific add-ons.)
  • The Death Or Glory rule in Warhammer 40,000 can be invoked when a unit is being run down by a tank. Instead of getting out of the way with the rest of his unit, one soldier may stand directly in the vehicle's path and make a single shot with a ranged weapon or a single attack with a melee weapon. If he immobilizes or destroys the tank, he lives, otherwise he gets run over and dies messily. The dramatic potential for having an Imperial Guardsman about to be run over by a Chaos Land Raider, and then lobbing a melta-bomb through an open gun slit is limitless. As is the sheer awesomeness of having a Space Marine power-fist a tank about to run him over.

  • More recent Nerf guns tend to come with 'secret storage' for one more dart, either below the barrel or up the pistol grip. It's usually not one of the features on the box art.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2:
    • The Gunzerker's "Money Shot" ability gives the last bullet in the magazine a damage bonus. While weapons with small magazines don't get much of a boost if any, he can still get far more consistent use out of the skill than you might expect by pairing it with "Inconceivable", which gives his shots a chance to not consume ammo, which means that last bullet can last him a while.
    • Zer0's "0ne Sh0t 0ne Kill" skill inverts this: the first bullet fired from a full magazine gets a big damage bonus.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!
    • Claptrap's skill "One Last Thing" on paper appears as a carbon copy of Salvador's "Money Shot" from the previous game. However, as Claptrap lacks any ammo mitigation measures in a form of a skill like "Inconceivable", it is incapable of continuously chaining shots for massive amounts of damage. But despite this, "One Last Thing's" Bonus Damage is based on whenever the pellet or splash damage is present on the final round, meaning that guns with both impact damage and impact damage will get their respective bonus on the final and penultimate shot. This is because splash damage is created after the shot is fired, therefore it registers as being on the final shot when hitting an enemy [1].
      • This makes Claptrap potentially devastating with something like a Ravager shotgun, as with the right shotgun grip he will always benefit from One Last Thing on all two shots of the magazine.
  • Borderlands 3 has Moze's skill "Click, Click", which increases her gun damage as her magazine empties, with the final shot receiving the greatest bonus.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty: World at War has a variant of this - the "Desparado" challenge has you kill an enemy with your magazine's last bullet.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops has one mission begin with the protagonist Mason in a room full of mooks with one round in a revolver, being forced to play Russian Roulette with one of his comrades. The trick ends up being deciding when to play and when to fire the gun at one of his captors to steal his guns instead. The also features a multiplayer mode called "One in the Chamber", where every player has a pistol (M1911 or PM) with one bullet, and the ability to take one more bullet from a killed enemy. Missed the enemy? Your only hope now is a knife kill.
  • In Call of Juarez at the end, the bad guy takes you out with a gun shot to the head, and you, with one final shot, have to shoot him in the head before he knives your companion in the back.
  • Counter-Strike: Source has the achievement "Magic Bullet" which involves killing an enemy with the last bullet you have loaded. The achievement also points out that this has to be a non-sniper weapon, since a weapon that kills in one shot anyway kind of removes the challenge.
    • Global Offensive will point out a notable accomplishment of someone during each round at its end; one of the possible things to be listed is killing someone with the last bullet in your mag.
  • In Chapter 1 of FAITH: The Unholy Trinity, near the end the demons leave behind a rifle with one bullet for Badass Preacher John. What you do with it determines the ending with the Golden Ending requiring you to not use it.
  • Gears of War secretly makes the final bullet in a magazine do extra damage, in order to help create moments like this trope.
  • GHOST Squad has a variant of this for the boss of mission 2: You get only one shot to headshot him, but that's because if you miss, he'll set off a grenade, not because it's your last bullet.
  • Halo 5: Guardians has a medal for when this happens in a multiplayer match called “Last Shot.”
  • I Am Alive features this situation a lot, as bullets are extremely rare. The protagonist starts out with a gun with no bullets and has to bluff people attacking him into backing off often with his empty gun, or threaten two or more people with a gun that has only a single bullet.
  • Point Blank (1994) does these with its infamous "sniping" challenges, where the player is given one shot to take down a small, moving target, such as a falling leaf or a tossed coin.
  • The opening cutscene of The Punisher (THQ) starts out with Frank only having one shell left in his automatic shotgun, and a squad of bad guys blocking his way to the exit. Frank shoots one of the them, and stalks towards them, the goons being too terrified to act. He then throws his empty gun at one of them and uses a knife to kill several of them, taking one of their guns in the process.
  • Damage bonus on the last shot is the passive ability of Tsygan from Sanctum 2. Though it has since been adjusted, the final shot from her primary weapon once dealt enough damage to one-shot an Armored Heavy (the most durable non-boss enemy in the game so far).
  • The Silent Scope series always does this at the end, forcing the player into a situation, such as shooting out a pane of bulletproof glass, where he must waste all but the last bullet of his existing magazine (or, if there's only one or two bullets left already, the last bullet of his next magazine) before confronting the last boss. As such, you have to get a headshot on him, or it's game over with the bad ending.
    • Exception: Silent Scope 2 forces this situation after the last boss is killed. Your last target is the handcuffs that connect him to the Damsel in Distress.
    • In Silent Scope EX, the first two bosses are like this; failure to headshot will yield a big Life Meter penalty and you'll be forced to repeat the mission.
  • StarCraft II uses this with some subtlety. Raynor always carries his pistol around, but never uses it. It's not until later in the game when he launches a boarding action on Mengsk's flagship that he checks his pistol and we see it loaded with only a single cartridge in the six-chamber cylinder. He simply clicks the cylinder back in place and holsters the gun, implying he only carries that single bullet for use against that one, specific target. In reality the bullet was more symbolic of setting right the past and redeeming his mistakes, thus why he uses it in the Grand Finale to Save the Girl.
    • In the beginning of the game, Raynor shoots the bar TV when Mengsk appears on it, but it's impossible to tell if that was his only shot.
  • In Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain's first bonus mission, Stone has a sniper rifle with only one bullet, and must kill enemies by snapping their necks until he finds the target.
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron weaponizes this with the Planet Buster upgrade for the Riot Cannon, which makes the last round in the clip deal five times the damage of the gun's regular rounds.
  • World of Tanks awards players a medal for destroying the last enemy vehicle in the battle with their last shell.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad! while Steve, his friends, and Principal Lewis are fleeing the casino. They hide behind a trash can until the goons empty their weapons. Barry (who's gifted at counting) claims they're out of ammunition. Lewis bursts out only to be shot in the shoulder by the last bullet. Barry lied. While sticking his finger in the bullet wound, he points out that Lewis should never touch a fat boy's candy.
  • Played straight in the Code Lyoko episode "Marabounta". When Jérémie's multi-agent system tries to destroy Aelita and eat all of Lyoko, Jérémie creates a virus to destroy it and uploads it into one of Odd's lazer arrows. He then has one chance to shoot the original agent and destroy the whole system. It then explodes.
  • Drawn Together: in keeping with the Crapsack World Sadist Show nature of the series, this is done at the end of a parody of The Bachelorette in which Princess Clara tries to find the "true love's kiss" which will cure her of her 'octopussoir'. When The Announcer (played by Jerkass roommate Spanky Ham), declares that she has 'one rose left' to give out, the winner turns out to be Prince Charming, who proceeds to sweep her off her feet, then at last kiss her. However, rather than curing Clara, his own genitals transform to match hers, Princess Fiona-style. Horrified, Prince Charming shoots himself, at which point Spanky hands Clara the gun and announces that there is one bullet left in the same tone he'd used for the roses.
  • Subverted in an episode of Hey Arnold! where a bulldozer is heading straight for a tree with a tree house the kids are in. They throw everything in the house including the sink (seriously) in its path but nothing stops it. Arnold grabs a coffee mug and throws it hoping to hit the brake lever. It misses by a good deal.
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A common gag in various shorts where the antagonist uses a gun to try to shoot his prey, the gun becomes jammed and, upon investigating, is shot point blank (ergo, the gun chamber is freed). Most famous example is the hunting trilogy classic Rabbit Fire, where an irritated Elmer Fudd tries to shoot Daffy Duck, but the gun locks up. Elmer remarks there were "no more buwwets" left in the gun — a point that Bugs Bunny picks up and calls Daffy out on — and the overconfident duck grabs the gun to make sure. Sure enough, there was "one buwwet left!"
  • Mighty Max: In "The Maxnificent Seven", one of the four heroes who goes with Max, Virgil, and Norman to the center of the earth to destroy Skullmaster's Crystal of Souls is Native American warrior and master archer Yona-Ya-Yin. He winds up having only one arrow left, which he uses to save the lives of Max, Virgil, and Norman by tying a rope to his last arrow, with Norman tying the other end to himself, and shooting a dragon that was flying towards where the escape portal was.
  • Double Subversion in the Young Justice (2010) episode "Homefront". Artemis is the last remaining member of the team standing, has one arrow left in her quiver, and needs to make a million-to-one shot. She takes the shot, misses, and runs away to come up with a new plan. Inevitably, when she's ready to try the new plan she's only found one replacement arrow, giving her one shot. It works.

Alternative Title(s): One Buwwet Weft