Follow TV Tropes


Pillow Pistol

Go To
"...I WILL win this pillow fight, at any cost!"

"Tell me, James, do you still sleep with a gun under your pillow?"
Paris Carver, Tomorrow Never Dies

Worried about hostile burglars or people after your life? Haven't got a skimpy nightdress? Have a reason to be Properly Paranoid? Try the Pillow Pistol!

This handy accessory fits under your pillow, allowing you to be fully armed in the event of strange nocturnal noises. The pillow is also a handy silencer! Just be careful not to shoot yourself or your sleeping partner. Or anyone trying to wake you up. A variation of this is when you are actually holding the gun while sleeping, but it is not under your pillow. A melee weapon such as sword, dagger or hand axe will also do the trick.

In real life, this is very risky and has caused some fatal accidents. Don't Try This at Home, at least not without some kind of special mattress or pillow holster designed to prevent the gun from shifting and going off while you sleep. Even apart from that, somebody just waking up to investigate a disturbance is likely to have their senses and judgement dulled by grogginess, and might accidentally shoot a loved one by mistaking them for a home intruder.

Sometimes though there's also a more practical option where the gun or weapon is close by or even right beside the owner as they sleep. This also especially fits if the weapon they have isn't exactly capable of being hidden underneath a pillow.

Compare Hidden Supplies, Can't Bathe Without a Weapon. Not to be confused with Victoria's Secret Compartment, or for a Childish Pillow Fight, or a Fanservice Faux Fight that's a pillow fight, where the pillow is the weapon. See also Pillow Silencer which can overlap with this trope depending on the context..


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Variation: In the Appleseed anime, Deunan starts her first night in Olympus trying to sleep in a bed, but it's apparently been so long since she slept in one that she can't. She ends up curled up on the hardwood floor clutching her service pistol.
  • A bit too big to fit under his pillow, but Guts from Berserk always sleeps with his sword.
  • In the Black Butler manga Ciel has a pistol under his pillow. Once when Sebastian wakes him Ciel points the gun at him due to a nightmare he had just had. He lowers the gun when he realizes it's just Sebastian.
  • Sousuke of Full Metal Panic! usually sleeps holding either a Glock or combat knife to his chest. This is maybe the third most unsettling sleep habit he's picked up over the years.
  • A particularly interesting example is in the manga version of Gunsmith Cats. Rally Vincent has been hospitalized and complains that the pillow isn't comfortable. Upon receiving a small pistol to hide under it, she sighs and falls asleep so deeply that Becky is able to pick her up by the scruff of her shirt and (attempt to) shake her down for gas money... but awakens instantly when she tries to take back the pistol (though again fails to get gas money). And sleeps right through her doodling on her face.
    The sequence turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun; a would-be assassin has plenty of time to comment on the doodling as "weird makeup"... but Rally instantly Wakes Up Fighting when he tries to stick a bomb under her pillow. And succeeds in shooting the hammer off the assassin's gun. And finds the bomb and throws it out the window onto the assassin's getaway car... Apparently Rally only wakes up quickly when she perceives a threat. A friend demanding gas money is not a threat.
  • Momochi Zabuza from Naruto had a kunai under his pillow.
  • Sky Wizards Academy: After she got injured in a fight, Yuri wakes up in an unfamiliar bed with the rest of platoon E601 nearby and is very upset when she finds out she had to be undressed while unconscious. During the ensuing Naked Freak-Out, she suddenly pulls a gun on Kanata, with the weapon seemingly coming from out of nowhere. Rico later explains that the gun is hers, and she keeps it under her pillow to defend herself from stalkers.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair, Zen, Mitsuhide and Kiki all sleep with their sword under their pillows, Kiki usually sleeps with hers in hand. Obi sleeps wearing all of his knives, but he often doesn't sleep in his bed and has fallen asleep in Zen and Mitsuhide's rooms. He's been caught sleeping in trees during the daytime, or really anywhere near his current charge whether it be Zen or Shirayuki.

    Comic Books 
  • One Iznogoud story had the title Evil Vizier buy a set containing a pair of magic shoes, a gun that would make their wearer run in a straight line when fired and a "finish" flag that was the only thing that could stop the shoes. The night before the big day, Iznogoud slept with the gun under his pillow and bound with a wrist strap. This doesn't stop a vengeful character from hiding the magic shoes within Iznogoud's baggy regular shoes.
  • Michael Tree, the heroine of the Ms. Tree comics, makes a habit of doing this. Given the number of times someone has broken into her bedroom in the middle of the night planning to kill her, it seems a sensible precaution.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): At least while acting as Cassie's mentor and protector, Artemis sleeps with her bow, quiver and sword.
  • X-Factor (2006): The morning after their wedding night, Jamie wakes up to a knock on his and Layla's bedroom door and assumes someone has come to kill them, having been informed of this happening in at least one alternate universe. Jamie pulls out a gun he had under his pillow but Layla points out that he still has the safety on. Fortunately, it is the police requesting Jamie and Layla's help to solve a murder.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Mass Effect/F.E.A.R. crossover Harbinger, Commander Shepard's intense, growing paranoia (fostered by equal parts of living in a Cosmic Horror Story and a history of fighting out-of-control psychics) leads to him sleeping with a pistol under his pillow. Ashley notes that he uses the pistol because once she and Shepard started sharing a bunk, there wasn't enough room for the two of them and the shotgun.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Disney's Pinocchio, Gepetto, of all people, keeps a loaded flintlock pistol under his pillow.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the documentary Bowling for Columbine, Moore interviews James Nichols, brother of the Oklahoma City Bombing accomplice Terry Nichols. James shows Moore the loaded gun he keeps under his pillow, and a subtitle then tells us that James has put the gun up to his head.
  • In The Car: Road to Revenge, Talen's gang attempt to abduct Daria from her house, but are thwarted when she pulls a Hand Cannon out from under the pillow and shoots several of them.
  • In Carlito's Way, crooked lawyer David Kleinfeld has been put in the hospital thanks to a mob assassination attempt, and is sleeping with a revolver under his pillow. Carlito Brigante comments on the stupidity of this because, especially in the hospital bed, there's no way Kleinfeld will be able to reach it and aim in time when Vinny comes for him.
    • Later on, Kleinfeld takes Carlito's advice about keeping the gun somewhere easier to get to and does manage to draw it in time as Vinny enters the room, but Carlito unloaded it. Adios, Counselor.
  • El Mariachi from Desperado does this with one of the two Rugers that he always uses. As his buddy Buscemi tells him, "One day, you're gonna lay down too hard on that thing and blow your brains out."
  • James Bond, and it was even used against him in Die Another Day when the Femme Fatale he slept with unloads it during the night.
  • Fantômas: In the third movie, Comissioner Juve keeps a gun under his pillow; apparently only when in the Scottish castle and on the current mission. The gun will suddenly disappear...
  • In the movie adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol the KGB agent Petrofsky and the female Soviet weapons expert Vassilievna have just finished having sex. She rolls over in bed and sees the imprint of Petrofsky's latest orders on a notepad: KILL HER. Petrofsky promptly shoves a pillow against her chest and fires his Makarov pistol through it as an improvised silencer.
  • Gang of Roses: When Johnny and Lou attempt to rob Chastity while she is sleeping, she suddenly sits up and produces two Hand Cannons from under the sheet, which she uses to shoot the two men dead.
  • In Gladiator General Maximus sleeps with a dagger. When Quintus comes to wake him Maximus snaps it out instantly, ready to slice his throat, sheepishly smiling when he recognizes his friend.
  • Lily Dillon (Anjelica Huston) in The Grifters.
  • In Harlem Nights, Dominique (Jasmine Guy) reaches for a pistol to use on a post-coital Quick (Eddie Murphy), only to find out Quick discovered the pistol before they'd had sex (while placing his own pistols under the pillows) and emptied it. He uses his own to kill her after she fails.
  • The plot of Inception involves industrial spies who use 20 Minutes into the Future technology to infiltrate their targets' dreams. In the Batman Cold Open the target is Japanese businessman Saito, who realises what is happening and wakes up to find himself not in his Big Fancy House but lying in bed in his secret love nest. He immediately takes a gun from under his pillow and points it at Arthur, who's trying to drug him unconscious again.
  • The Ipcress File opens with our hero Harry Palmer going through his Morning Routine, but Harry taking a gun out from under his duvet shows the audience his job is anything but routine.
  • Kill Bill: In Volume 2, upon learning about her pregnancy, she was ambushed by Karen Kim in her hotel room. After a brief fight, The Bride/Beatrix pulls her gun from under her pillow resulting she and Karen pointing their guns at each other.
  • This trope is played with in one of the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movies. The male lead goes to put his gun under his pillow, apparently the bed was already taken by Lara as there was already a pair of pistols under the pillow.
  • Riggs in Lethal Weapon sleeps with his service pistol. At least, he would if he slept.
  • Midway through Miller's Crossing, a gang of mooks storms former-mook-turned-mob-boss Leo O'Bannion's house in the middle of the night as part of an attempted coup. The first two get taken out with one of these. For the others, he's got a Tommy gun in his wardrobe. And damn if he ain't still an artist when using it, too.
  • Happens in Murder on the Orient Express (1974) (as well as in the 2017 adaptation). On first entering the murder victim's room, Poirot notes the pistol ready under his pillow and the strange fact that he didn't try to defend himself with it while being stabbed multiple times. He quickly establishes the victim was drugged beforehand.
  • Porter in Payback, while sleeping on his ex-wife's couch, wakes up and still has the gun in his hand.
    • He also kills his old partner with it, using a pillow as a makeshift silencer.
  • In The Film of the Book Prince Caspian the queen has essentially a Pillow Crossbow.
  • Queen of Outer Space. The eponymous Queen Yllana is captured in her bedchamber and is told she has a choice between ordering her forces to surrender or be killed. She appears to collapse on her bed in defeat, only to grab a Ray Gun from under her pillow and open fire.
  • Not involving a pistol but worthy of noting here; Roger Moore's character in Shout at the Devil hides his cash bag under the pillow when he stays the night at a hotel room in Africa. The next day he discovers someone has cut a hole through the bed and removed it!
  • In the 1979 Disney comedy A Spaceman In King Arthurs Court, the eponymous astronaut demonstrates a laser gun for King Arthur, who commands him to guard it well in case it falls into the wrong hands. Merlin decides to steal it, and while searching the astronaut's room finds it hidden under the pillow. Apparently because they haven't invented firearms yet, this is regarded as something new.
    Merlin: Fiendishly clever, the American! Who else would have thought to hide it there?!
  • Happens by accident near the end of the book Wag the Dog is based on: two characters have sex after one gives the other a pistol as a present. They fall asleep with the pistol there, a bad guy breaks in and gets the last surprise of his life. The narrator comments that it was like a movie.

  • Variant in 11/22/63: the protagonist conceals a pistol inside a pillow and uses it to the muffle the gunshot when he kills Frank Dunning for the second time.
  • Levi Kroll from the Alex Rider series deserves a special mention on this one:
    "For over twenty years he had slept with a loaded nine-millimeter FN-pistol under his pillow. And then, one night, it has fired. [...] An eyepatch covered the empty eyehole where the left eye had been."
  • Averted in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of books by Laurel K Hamilton, where the titular heroine has a special holster attached to her headboard specifically for a Firestar 9mm. Apparently she has had problems in the past with zombies/werewolves/minions breaking and entering...
  • In Chronicles of a Death Foretold, it is mentioned that Santiago's father once kept a loaded gun in his pillow until one day it blew a hole in the wall when the maid was changing the bed. He still has an unloaded gun in his pillow, though.
  • Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, practices this due to his extremely healthy sense of paranoia. he always keeps his laspistol and comm-bead underneath his pillow.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner (1994) Bren, the human ambassador to an alien race, is given a gun by one of the alien leaders as a gift and keeps it in his bed. He ends up needing it as an assassin tries to kill him soon after.
  • One of the Fu Manchu novels has a grizzled explorer preferring to keep his pistol hanging on a hook beside his head rather than under his pillow.
  • In I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert recommends sleeping with a gun under the pillow and blasting away at anything that wakes you up. Footnotes and sidebars strongly discourage it.
  • James Bond
    • In the opening chapter of the first Bond novel Casino Royale, Bond is described as keeping a Colt Police Positive revolver with sawn-off barrel under his pillow. He sleeps with his hand underneath its butt, ready to draw and fire.
    • Vivienne The Spy Who Loved Me finds this out about Bond when he has to get up from bed to finish off one of the two bad guys for good. Earlier in the novel, he had advised her to do the same.
  • Averted in The Little Drummer Girl (a John le Carré novel) when a Palestinian terrorist comments that it's quicker to have the weapon by the side of the bed.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid novelization, Snake has a gun close to his bed when he was forcibly dragged to the mission - and interlude at Master Miller's house reveals the latter has guns concealed in every room in his house.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Mort Princess Keli, expecting an assassin, slept with a knife under her pillow. Upon being woken in the night by a suspicious total lack of the noise of anyone moving around the room, she found that it had slipped behind the headboard.
  • Earl of Coris, spymaster of Corisande in Safehold series, sleeps with a dagger under his bed when in exile in Delferahk and it's implied that he did that for much longer time. Not that it helps him anyhow when Abrahim pays him a nighttime visit.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Zamboula"
    Conan grunted and tossed his naked broadsword on the couch.
    “Your bolts and bars are strong; but I always sleep with steel by my side.”
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, while worried about Noghri attempting to capture her, Leia keeps her lightsaber under her pillow as she sleeps. When some do come in the night for her, she throws the pillow first as a distraction.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2 Broke Girls: Max sleeps with a knife under her pillow because she can't afford a home security system and is also a "cutter".
  • Babylon 5's Security Chief Garibaldi pulls his PPG out from under his pillow in one episode when he's woken up by suspicious noises from his shower.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harmony drives away fellow vampire and ex-boyfriend Spike with a stake she keeps in her bed. Spike reacts to it like you would to a loaded gun. "You kept that in our bed? Do you know how dangerous those things are?"
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael and Fiona, after a bout of Destructo-Nookie, wake up to a knock on the door. They glance at each other, then simultaneously pull their guns out from under the pillows and look around for enemies.
    • Lampshaded by Michael's mother Madeline, who was renting out space in her home in Season 4 and told him that she would like to have more friends that didn't do this. At the end of the episode, she realizes she was kidding herself when she allows the new member of Team Westen, Jesse Porter, to sleep there for free.
    "What kind of sissy wouldn't sleep with a gun under his pillow, anyway?"
  • The Equalizer. In "Splinters", McCall does some Trespassing to Talk.
    McCall: I think you should know that the gun you keep under your pillow...(holds up revolver) elsewhere.
  • The George Lopez Show: In one episode, Carmen wakes up Jason in the middle of the night, causing him to spring from the couch, brandishing a baseball bat while shouting "I DIDN'T TOUCH YOUR DAUGHTER, MR. LOPEZ!".
  • The King's Woman: Ying Zheng sleeps with a sword beside him. It saves his life when Han Shen attempts to assassinate him.
  • NCIS: Kate tells Gibbs that she sleeps with one. His reaction: "Good girl!"
    • So does Ziva. At least one man has nearly suffered fatal consequences from waking her up.
  • Miss Parker from The Pretender
    Miss Parker (discovering the firing pin on her gun has been removed, rendering it inoperable): I sleep with this gun under my pillow.
    Jared: And you drool out the left side of your mouth.
  • The Punisher (2017)
    • Curtis Hoyle sleeps with a gun under his pillow. We see him take it out instinctively when Micro comes pounding on the door in the middle of the night to summon Curtis to provide emergency medical work on Frank Castle. In the season 1 finale, he tries to reach for it when he finds Billy Russo in his apartment asking him to betray Frank...only Billy has taken the gun.
      Russo: You looking for this?
    • When Russo escapes in Season 2, Agent Madani (who was shot by Russo, her ex-lover) is shown sleeping with a gun under the pillow next to her. However this is presented as a sign of her unresolved trauma than being Properly Paranoid, though Russo does turn up in her apartment later. As with Curtis, he makes sure to confiscate the gun (and a backup pistol she hides in the kitchen cupboard) before confronting her.
  • Shadow and Bone. On being placed in a luxurious room in the Little Palace, the first thing Alina does is search it until she finds a makeshift weapon, a letter opener that she hides under her pillow. Growing up in a orphanage had taught her the importance of always having a weapon available.
  • Sledge Hammer!: Inspector Sledge Hammer doesn't keep Gun under his pillow. Gun has its own very fancy pillow beside Sledge's.
  • Captain Lorca of Star Trek: Discovery sleeps with a phaser under his pillow. The trope is quickly deconstructed - the likelihood of him ever getting to use it against an enemy who infiltrates a federation starship and makes it to the captain's quarters are rather low. Instead, he pulls it on Admiral Cornwell when she wakes him. She considers it not as a sign of him being prepared, but of him being utterly broken from the loss of his previous ship, and having cheated his way through his psych evaluations. However, the later revelation of him being a ruthless Terran suggests a different explanation: like every Terran officer, he's constantly paranoid of someone desiring a Klingon Promotion, hence the phaser and the reaction.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. In "The Most Toys", Villain of the Week Kivas Fajo mentions that he sleeps with one of his rare prototype Varon-T disruptors under his pillow, "and I sleep very well". This is used as a Chekhov's Gun when Data and Varria try to sneak off the ship while he's asleep; the alarm goes off and he soon comes running with the disrupter in his hand.
  • Supernatural.
    • "Dark Side of the Moon" opens with a masked man pointing a shotgun at a sleeping Dean. At least he appears to be asleep, casually changing position and slipping a hand beneath his pillow...
    Masked Man: Looking for this? (ejects the magazine from Dean's .45, which he's holding in his other hand)
  • Sarah does this in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She also keeps a shotgun behind the wallpaper, and lines the easy chair with Kevlar.
  • Burt with his .50 Desert Eagle in Tremors: The Series, in the episode: "A Little Paranoia Among Friends."

  • In Bruce Springsteen song Murder Incorporated, doubling with Properly Paranoid:
    Bobby's got a gun that he keeps beneath his pillow
    Out on the street your chances are zero

    Video Games 
  • Earth 2150: The Moon Project describes that the Fang pilot needed to sleep with a pistol under his pillow because he's unsure if he's going to get killed because of what he learned.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, it is possible to occasionally scrounge weapons that have been hidden under beds. The best example is in the Crimson Caravan Company barracks. Check closely, and one of the employees will have stashed a gun in their bunk for an emergency. You'd think they would hide a silenced .22 Ruger, or an omnipresent 9mm Browning Hi-Power. Nope. The paranoid caravaneer tried to hide a 10mm pistol in their sheets, a handgun so huge that it could theoretically be used as a bludgeon.
  • Hilariously inverted in Team Fortress 2. In the supplemental comic Meet The Director we find out that the Heavy Weapons Guy sleeps with his favorite minigun in a bed next to his own.
    Scout: That's your gun there.
    Heavy: Yes.
    Scout: In a tiny bed. Beside your bed.
    Heavy: Yes.
    Scout: That's pretty embarassin'.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Stan Smith of American Dad! has a small shotgun inside his pillow.
    Stan: Ah, pillow gun. Where danger and comfort meet! 200 thread count, *pumps the shotgun* 200 dead count.
  • At the end of Batman: The Animated Series episode "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", after Corrupt Corporate Executive Mockridge is nearly killed by Edward Nygma/The Riddler, who he had fired and ripped off, he is shown taking a shotgun with him as he goes to bed, unable to sleep well due to worrying Riddler would return to finish the job.
    Batman: How much is a good night sleep worth? Now there's a riddle for ya!
  • Tangled: The Series: The episode "Big Brothers Of Corona" shows us that Cassandra sleeps with a sword next to her bed, and when a noise wakes her up, she reaches for the sword to fight the intruder at her room, her best friend Rapunzel.

    Real Life 
  • It is standard procedure in the military (at least the American and British militaries) to sleep with your rifle in your sleeping bag when you bivy out, as per the principle that your weapon should always be within arm's reach. It should be noted however that the weapon is safed and unloaded whilst you sleep (though ammunition should likewise be within reach, allowing quick arming should the need suddenly arise).
  • One home defense book recommended placing the gun between the mattress of the bed as it will move about less there. Under the pillow there's a risk of the gun shifting (as you move about during sleep) and falling to the floor, or of the trigger inadvertently being pulled while the sleeper is unconsciously moving around. Pistol holsters that clamp onto the bed frame also exist for this purpose.
  • There is a pillow holster designed to keep a sidearm from moving around while you sleep.
    • A similar alternative is displayed with the Gun Bed, where the long gun can be stored inside the headboard for quick access.
  • There is the story of the Chinese Civil War general, who always sleeps with his prized handgun. Unfortunately, he ended up accidentally shooting himself in the head during a sickness-induced bout of delirium.
  • There was a story in the news sometime about a German man who got shot because the gun kept under his pillow accidentally discharged.
  • At least one Darwin Award winner managed to shoot himself with his Pillow Pistol when startled awake.
  • A man who kept a Colt Derringer under his pillow planned to use it on a dog that wouldn’t stop keeping him awake with its incessant barking. However, when he went to grab the gun and actually Shoot the Dog, it went off and hit him in the arm instead.
  • One legend about Alexander the Great, meant to portray him as a Warrior Poet, says that he always slept with two things under his pillow: a knife, and a copy of The Iliad.
  • Barbara Stager tried to invoke this trope when she murdered her husband Russ. However, several things tore her story apart: her husband, a member of the US Army Reserves, would have known better than to leave a gun with the safety off under his pillow; the trajectory of the bullet and the location of the spent shell casing made it clear the gun was fired from the opposite side of the bed; the trigger required too much force to be pulled by accident; and Barbara herself was unable to recreate the scenario she described to the police.


Video Example(s):


Pillow Pistol - Burn Notice

Despite laying in bed post-sex under a modesty bedsheet with no clothes on, Michael and Fiona both have guns hidden behind their pillows, which they quickly draw the moment they wake up after being disturbed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / PillowPistol

Media sources: