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Only a Lighter

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A cigarette lighter designed to look like something else, such as a toy ... or a gun in which case it may become a Weapon for Intimidation.

There may be some actual toys or guns that look exactly like it, causing a character to mix the two up. In the latter case, this can easily be either Played for Laughs or Played for Drama, depending on the situation.

Compare Couldn't Find a Lighter, where the thing being used to light a cigarette or similar doesn't look like a lighter because it isn't. Also compare "Bang!" Flag Gun.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Detective Conan: The third episode involves a Statue of Liberty cigarette lighter that is not mistaken for something else, but is used to show (since she knows what it is) that one particular character has been secretly trespassing.
  • The Cowboy Bebop movie features a lighter shaped like a grenade at one point.
  • The third episode of Trigun is "Peace Maker", which sees an outlaw boss Dual Wielding long-barrel revolvers that are actually matching cigarette lighters. This Harmless Villain with a Slasher Smile plots a bank heist posing as The Hero, Vash The Stampede.

    Comic Books 
  • Towards the end of Transmetropolitan's run Spider Jerusalem develops a fast-progressing neurodegenerative disorder with very little chance of recovering. In the epilogue issue he has barely any manual dexterity left, his assistants leave him alone for a minute and he whips out what looks like a gun and slowly draws it towards his head, then lights a cigarette with it. Revealing that he is recovering after all.
  • In the Catwoman comic, Catwoman's fixer Zed had a pistol shaped cigarette lighter that nearly caused him to get shot on one occasion.
  • In Batman #171, the Riddler uses a pistol lighter to trick Batman into attacking him when he is not actually doing anything illegal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Return of the Pink Panther: Chief Inspector Dreyfus has a pistol cigarette lighter. It looks identical to his pistol. This results in a Running Gag where he mistakes his lighter for his pistol, or vice versa. When François sees it before Dreyfus lights himself a cigarette, after informing Dreyfus that Clouseau is to be reinstated as a detective, we get this exchange:
    François: Sir?!
    Dreyfus: What? [looks at pistol-shaped lighter] Oh, it's a birthday gift from my wife.
  • The 1997 George of the Jungle has an inversion: Lyle shoots at George with a pistol that he thought was a novelty lighter.
  • The kid from Jungle 2 Jungle is given a mission by his tribal elder to steal fire from the Statue of Liberty, and is disappointed to learn that its torch isn't real. At the end of the film his American dad gives him a novelty lighter that looks like it.
  • The film Zombie Spring Breakers features local gangster Karl occasionally threatening people with a gun only to reveal that it is actually a lighter as he leaves them to get killed by zombies; in his final scene, he kills himself by accident when he mixes the two up and shoots himself in the head while trying to light a cigarette.
  • In Woody Allen's Mockumentary Take the Money and Run, Virgil Starkwell is seen at one point stealing a gun from a pawn shop and get in a shootout with the police soon after only to realize that the "gun" that he just stole is a cigarette lighter.
  • An inversion in The Man with the Golden Gun: the titular gun is a working cigarette lighter as well as an actual gun when not being used to shoot.
  • In Innerspace, the hapless store clerk protagonist has to deal with a customer who pulls a "gun" out of her purse when she gets annoyed with him only for it to turn out to be a lighter.
  • Fairly early in Weird Science someone pulls out a pistol and it turns out to be a lighter. Later on it somehow gets replaced... with a pistol.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Batman (1966) episode "Hi Diddle Riddle", the Riddler uses a pistol lighter to trick Batman into attacking him when he is not actually doing anything illegal.
  • Hogan's Heroes: In the very first episode, a Nazi is sent in disguised as a prisoner to infiltrate their operation. One of the tricks they use to discredit him with his higher ups is showing him the novelty replica-Luger cigarette lighters they're mass producing, so that later, when he sees a real Luger, he fires it, thinking it's a cigarette lighter.
  • The Pretender: In the episode "Scott Free", reluctant criminal Scott threatens to shoot Jarod with a gun, but when he pulls the trigger it's revealed to be a lighter, and he explains that so far he's got away with just appearing dangerous. At the climax of the episode, gang leader Nick threatens Jarod with his own gun, only to find that Jarod has sneakily remodeled it and now it's also just a lighter.
  • The first episode of Black Books has a subplot where Fran is going slowly mad trying to figure out what a bizarre object she bought to sell in her shop is. At the end of the episode, Manny wanders into her shop and immediately identifies it as a novelty cigarette lighter.
  • On a Christmas Episode of Just Shoot Me!, Nina scares some carolers by pulling out her pistol lighter. She later gives it to Jack as a present, and it gets him in trouble when he gets caught in an illegal immigration sting (long story).
  • In the Top Gear Middle East special, when the cast are passing through a tense border check, one of the guards finds a lighter in Richard Hammond's car that is shaped like a rifle round, and is understandably pissed off by the carelessness of bringing such a thing.
  • Sherlock: "A Study in Pink" ends with Sherlock confronting the cabbie who's been forcing people to play a deadly game of picking one of two pills to see which is poisoned or he'll just shoot them. Sherlock picks the gun, which turns out to be a lighter. He comments that he knows a real gun when he sees one.
  • In My Name Is Earl, Richard Chubby, the owner of Club Chubby, used to carry an automatic and an identical looking squirt gun filled with vodka that he used to use to freshen up patrons drink. There was more than one instance when he got the guns mixed up and shot a patron's glass. Chubby died some time later after doing vodka shots from the squirt gun, but accidentally using the real gun instead of the one with vodka in it.
  • Similar scenario happens in an episode of Happy Days where a sheriff, who has a vendetta for the Fonz, proceeds to pat him down, and finds what appears to be a switch-blade. He's about to arrest him before Fonzie reveals that it's actually a novelty comb.

  • Orbital: In an awkwardly dated moment from "The Saint" music video, Paul and Phil whip out pistols as they're passing through an airport security checkpoint. The security officers pull out their own guns, and the situation looks like a Mexican Standoff—then Paul and Phil reveal that their "guns" are really just lighters. Then the security officers laugh and wave them through.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Seiji explains that he learned how to pick locks so he could pilfer a gun from his father's safe. Turns out the gun in question was just a very fancy lighter, gifted to his father from a friend in Sicily. At least his lockpicking skills prove useful in the game.

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Magoo has a gun lighter in the cartoon "Magoo's Express". He shows it to a lady who, unbeknownst to him, is an Eastern Bloc spy trying to get the MacGuffin he acquired by mistake.
  • Family Guy:
    • During the musical number in the episode "420", a DEA agent uses a gun-shaped lighter to light a Jamacian's joint.
    • Apparently, Vladamir Putin has a lighter that looks like a AK-pattern rifle.
  • BoJack Horseman
    Todd: Is that just your gun-shaped lighter or your lighter-shaped gun?
    BoJack: Busted! It's just a lighter! *BANG!* Shit, I guess it's my gun. Then what did I do with my lighter? And what did I give to that baby?

    Real Life 
  • Some cities and states have actually banned the marketing and sale of novelty lighters in their jurisdictions, because of their resemblance to ordinary toys, and may present a greater risk of fire or injury.
  • Tinder pistols from the 17-18th centuries were the first novelty lighters. They were essentially pistols of the time, but with no barrel, no bullet and an expanded flashpan. A waxy wick was put into the flashpan with all the gunpowder, and ignition set the waxy wick on fire. After that, the user lit his pipe from this fire.


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