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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 
  • Case Closed: 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.
  • GTO: The Early Years: When Eikichi sneaks into Nao Kadena's apartment, he watches her point a gun at two guys who seem to be yakuza and order them to leave. As soon as they're gone, she turns the gun on him and pulls the trigger, saying he knows too much. It's revealed to be a lighter, and only singes his hair, but he still shits himself in fright.
  • 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 
  • In Batman #171, the Riddler uses a pistol lighter to trick Batman into attacking him when he is not actually doing anything illegal.
  • In the Catwoman comic, Catwoman's fixer Zed had a pistol shaped cigarette lighter that nearly caused him to get shot on one occasion.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film Carpool has Tom Arnold's character carrying a lighter pistol.
  • The 1997 George of the Jungle has an inversion: Lyle shoots at George with a pistol that he thought was a novelty lighter (the two were identical and a porter handed him the wrong one).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the 2001 Russian film Lions Share, the hero has a lighter in the shape of a gun. When in the end he confronts the (armed) traitor, he pulls out this lighter to light his cigarette as they talk. But when the traitor lets his guard down, he shoots him with it, revealing that it was not just a lighter.
  • An inversion in The Man with the Golden Gun: the eponymous gun is a working cigarette lighter as well as an actual gun when not being used to shoot.
  • 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.
  • In Ruthless People, Ken threatens Barbara with a "gun" when she attempts to escape. When she grabs it away from him and pulls the trigger, she discovers that it's a lighter.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Jeremy James: After the young boy Jeremy James has heard that the usual way to rob a bank is to get a gun and say "stick 'em up", he suddenly sees a man queueing in the bank who is holding a gun. He tells the bank manager, who discovers that the gun is in fact a cigarette lighter. However, it turns out that the man is a wanted villain, and for once, the impossibly logical Jeremy James is right about something.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • M*A*S*H: One episode featured a sleazy chopper pilot who paid Korean children to scavenge for metal in minefields and such which he turned into sourveniers for GIs. One of the novelties he made from the scrap was a pistol lighter, which he claimed was his biggest seller. He tried passing it off as a gift for one of his "suppliers" who'd been injured by a mine explosion, much to the disgust of Hawkeye and BJ.
  • Jessica's friend Horace has a pistol lighter in the Murder, She Wrote episode "Footnote to Murder". He is initially shown apparently on the verge of suicide, but actually just writing an angsty poem, and when Jessica arrives just as he pulls it out she says he's going to kill himself ... because she knows it's a lighter and thinks he smokes too much. He then pulls it in a scuffle with the Victim of the Week, just for the pleasure of watching the tough guy suddenly collapse in fear while he casually lights up. And then right at the end he goes to light a cigarette while he and Jessica are checking out of the hotel, and the receptionist hits the alarm.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sense8: After Lito's boyfriend leaves him for not standing up for a friend Lito becomes depressed and tries to shoot himself. When he pulls the trigger it turns out the "gun" is actually a novelty lighter. This serves as a wake-up call for Lito who snaps out of his funk and sets out to make things right.
  • 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.
  • Squid Game: Gi-hun gives his young daughter a claw machine prize for her birthday, which appears to be a gun, but is actually a lighter. He decides to hold onto it and when the salesman initially attempts to make a deal with him, Gi-Hun points it at him, causing the salesman to raise both his hands. When Gi-hun pulls the trigger, the salesman is relieved to find that it was just a lighter.
  • 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.

  • Old Master Q: Master Q is at a bar when the guy sitting a few feet to his left pulls out a gun... and use the small fire from it's barrel to light his cigar. Master Q responds by pulling out a sword... and use the hidden water compartment in the blade to refill his cup.

  • In Berlin's early video "The Metro," Terri Nunn's character steals a pistol from a sleeping soldier's bag on the titular metro. She later points the pistol at a window where two lovers' silhouettes are shown making love, only to be accosted by the soldier whose gun she'd stolen. The soldier grabs the gun barrel and pulls the trigger, revealing that the gun is a lighter. The soldier lights the cigarette in his mouth, and walks away as the gun falls from Nunn's hand.
  • 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 
  • Inverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: One of the Phantom's weapons is a gun that can be folded and disguised as a lighter.
  • 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 
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.