Executing someone with a handgun can be a noisy and messy undertaking. But there is a solution: the pillow silencer. Cover the victim's face with a pillowcase and then pull the trigger. Not only will this method help to muffle the sound, it also keeps the blood splatter in check which helps to prevent excessive on-screen gore.
This actually does work, with a first shot through a pillow around 2.5 times quieternote . A pillow has many surfaces within it (the stuffing) that help absorb and diffuse sound, which is the same concept as a normal suppressor.
Related to Hollywood Silencer, when the effect is much beyond what an actual noise suppressor can do. Compare Vorpal Pillow when a pillow is used to suffocate the victim. See Pillow Pistol when someone sleeps with a weapon under their pillow.
- Exaggerated for comedy in Spy Hard: A mime gets shot◊ with a .50 Browning machine gun silenced in this fashion on the pre-credits sequence.
- Villain Protagonist Porter from Payback executes his Token Motivational Nemesis Val Resnick in this manner. A small couch pillow apparently makes a perfect silencer for Porter's enormous revolver.
- In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Angel Eyes begins to suffocate Baker under a pillow, then shoots through the pillow and kills him.
- In The Lady In Red (1979), Polly fires her Colt into a pillow while performing a Mercy Kill.
- In Cookie's Fortune, Cookie lies down in bed and shoots herself through a pillow.
- In Haywire, spy-on-the-run Mallory executes an enemy in this fashion, though the silencer part doesn't come into play.
- In John Wick, Ms. Perkins kills Harry this way.
- The big bad of Tidal Wave No Escape uses it to murder a witness in the hospital.
- In Blood Alley (1955), Capt. Wilder (John Wayne) uses one of these to muffle the sound of shooting out a door lock when Chinese troops are searching the village. He needs to get back to his room to hide an escape map.
- In Layer Cake, Gene reveals in a flashback that he assassinated Crazy Larry this way.
- In The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Hertz Shemets shot Emanuel Lasker through a pillow to muffle the sound. When Meyer is shown the body, kicking off the plot of the novel, he notices that the pillow is missing.
- The villain of Columbo episode "Troubled Waters" was being blackmailed by an old flame while on a sea cruise with his heiress wife. When the chanteuse declared that she was going to be a Shipping Torpedo during her performance, the villain shot her using a pistol and one of her dressing room's throw pillows. Of course, nobody heard this gunshot; only the bullet hole and some stray feathers made any indication that the pillow served this purpose.
- In Inside No. 9 episode "A Quiet Night In," an enraged husband kills his Trophy Wife when she rejects his kiss. He grabs a gun, places a cushion on her face and pulls the trigger. Watch the scene here.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Ghost" has the criminal of the week named Ghost attempt to kill a six-year-old boy by shooting him through a pillow. Though it's speculated that the killer used it not so much as a silencer but because he found it hard to murder a child while looking at him. He didn't bother with the pillow when he killed the parents a few moments before.
- Murder, She Wrote: "Mourning Among the Wisterias" features a variant; partway through the episode, the housekeeper Ola Mae talks to Jessica about a missing comforter that had been at the murder scene, thinking the police took it as evidence and haven't returned it. Jessica realizes that the killer used the comforter as an improvised silencer and took it away with them.
- In The Professionals episode "A Stirring of Dust", an Irish hitman uses a seat cushion for this when he has to Shoot Out the Lock on a lockbox. He doesn't have an actual silencer for Rule of Drama (earlier he didn't shoot Doyle because the gunshot would draw attention).
- At the end of the Riverdale episode "Citizen Lodge", Hiram finally tracks down The Don who had his father killed years ago, covers his head with a pillow and pulls the trigger in revenge.
- In Sons of Anarchy episode "Old Bones," Clay holds the pistol on Lowell while contemplating using a pillow as an improvised suppressor.
- In Training Day episode "Wages of Sin," Jeff takes out one of Chief Wade's men in a public area by using a pillow to muffle the gunshot.
- In Twin Peaks: The Return episode 2, Evil Cooper murders a girl this way when he finds out she tried to double-cross him with her partner. First he knocks her unconscious and then places a pillow on her face and reaches with his revolver underneath to shoot her in the temple. Watch it here (gory).
- In The Wire when looking for Old Face Andre, Chris Partlow and Snoop encounter his mother. Chris puts a pillow on her face and fires. However, he doesn't kill her and it was more of a fear tactic.
- At least one Victim of the Week has died this way on NCIS. Possibly more.
- CSI: NY:
- In season 5's "Turbulence," a teddy bear is used as a silencer for a Desert Eagle 50.
- The titular victim in "Rest in Peace, Marina Garito" (6.18) was killed in this manner. The perp was caught after he over-thought things and returned to the scene to steal the matching throw pillow from the couch.
- During the Time Skip cutscene in Wolfenstein: The New Order, a Nazi stormtrooper executes BJ's fellow patient at the sanatorium by putting a pillow onto his face and shooting him through it. It's unclear why he even bothers with it, though, since the sanatorium is being officially purged, anyway.
- While coming to the aid of a trapped survivor in The Walking Dead, Lee, Carley, and Glenn must clear the area of Walkers quietly. This trope can be used on the first Walker, allowing the group to remain undetected.
- A single mission in Hitman: Contracts allows performing this. The level takes place in an old Scottish mansion whose owners participate in Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, and are planning a hunt for the next day.
- In Death Stranding, Clifford Unger Mercy Killed his brain-dead wife this way after realizing the doctors at the complex had no intention of saving her or his infant son. However, an alarm was set to go off if her heart stopped, so the complex learns of her death very quickly regardless.