Follow TV Tropes


Puppet Gun

Go To
A sufficiently large gun (larger BFG to Wave-Motion Gun) robs its user of being able to look cool by actually wielding it. Solution: Provide a device for aiming and firing the thing by remote control that actually looks like a human-scale gun itself.

Truth in Television: laser designator systems for aerial bombs and missiles often fit this. The laser emitter is carried by a person or mounted on a vehicle and is used to guide the actual missile (which is usually launched from a ship or plane) to its target. Related to Helmet-Mounted Sight and Laser Sight. Both are real life uses of a similar principle. See a photo of an actual military grade laser designator which is not quite so "gun-like" as some fictional depictions.

Often fills the "special" slot of Standard FPS Guns, and may or may not be equipped with a Laser Sight to aid the user.

Not to be confused with a gun that fires puppets.

Compare Motion-Capture Mecha for a similar phenomenon of guiding a big thing using a miniature, Full-Contact Magic for "mime a punch, and a giant fist manifests to strike your opponent", and Target Spotter for characters who tell distant allies where to aim their attacks. A Flare Gun may be used as this.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In The Punisher arc "Countdown", rogue SHIELD agent Stone Cold uses one to aim and launch a series of missiles at his target.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Clear and Present Danger, commandos on the ground frame a Colombian drug lord for a terrorist attack by targeting his pickup so the bomb falls into it before exploding. Taken from the book of the same name, where John Clark personally lases the pickup truck.
  • In Vantage Point, the terrorists use a rifle on a remote-controlled mount to assassinate the president's body double.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has the Target Acquisition Gear, or TAG, which is a spotting laser used to paint a target for a guided Arrow IV artillery missile hit, or for specialized LRM munitions to home in on.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Tau have markerlights, a laser designator mounted in a standard Tau rifle that allows the user to designate a target, then a nearby Skyray fires a missile at it.

    Video Games 
  • Armed Assault II checked its facts first.
  • Boris in the Yuri's Revenge expansion for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 uses a laser designator to call in airstrikes from several fighter-bombers against buildings. It's much slower than the C4 that the Allies' Tanya and Navy SEALs use, since you have to wait for the bombers to make their run, then leave the area to reload before he can hit the next building. It also means he's stuck plinking away at enemy tanks with his rifle and hoping that the difference in experience is big enough that his natural health regen can outpace the damage the tank does to him, unlike Tanya who can also use her C4 on enemy vehicles (his only upshot is that, as a Hero Unit, he shares her immunity to being simply splattered underneath it). However, the tradeoff is that he's much more effective on his own against static defenses like pillboxes and Prism Towers, since he can call the strike on the defensive structure - or, more cripplingly, its power supply - from beyond the range of anything in the game short of France's unique Grand Cannon, versus Tanya or SEALs requiring support from stronger units to go in and take out static defenses for them.
  • A few levels of the old Delta Force games let you take along a laser designator to call in artillery strikes, most commonly on objectives such as parked helicopters.
  • Kira of Dirty Bomb uses her "Orbital Strike" ability to call in a giant laser from a Kill Sat. She can even move the beam around, as it persists for a few seconds.
    Kira: Why won't people just see me for who I am, and not for the colossally destructive weapons satellite I control?
  • The Air Raider class from the Earth Defense Force series can carry a laser designator to guide missiles launched by their allies. In fact, certain weapons carried by the Fencer class can't be fired at all without that guidance, limiting them to multiplayer matches. Certain air strikes have dedicated designators to mark targets for cruise missiles or a Kill Sat and are even able to redirect them in flight.

  • The Network Tap from James Bond Everything or Nothing. In practice, it's more of an 11th-Hour Superpower: Q has to very hurriedly send it into the field (read: Moscow) and you only get to use it in two out of the last four levels.
  • Euclid's C-Finder in Fallout: New Vegas looks like a cartoony ray-gun, but it's linked to a solar-powered Kill Sat called ARCHIMEDES II. It's in the possession of a young child when the game starts. Thankfully, ARCHIMEDES II is unpowered by that time, considering the young child thinks Euclid's C-Finder is what it looks like (a toy) and so has pulled the trigger while playing with his friends. The player can also come into possession of it before knowing what it is, and it will seem entirely useless until the satellite is brought online.
  • The Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War falls into this category. It's a Kill Sat that's controlled by a more pistol-like object.
  • A variation without a gun: Goldeneye's EM Hack in Goldeneye Rogue Agent, which turns enemy turrets and other armaments over to your side.
  • The Apollo Lens in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, which must be aimed using a giant statue that amplifies your Psyenergy. A miniaturized version of the controls is located inside said statue.
  • In Gunbound, the A-Sate shoots small tracer- lasers that mark the spot where its minuature Kill Sats are going to fire. Other vehicles can do similar things with lighting and Thor, the resident Kill Sat, which all the other vehicles can occasionally use but only one is specialized in it.
  • Combine gunships and Striders in Half-Life 2 are decidedly not Point Defenseless and can use their chin-mounted machine gun to shoot down rockets fired directly at them. The solution La RĂ©sistance came up with is a laser-guided missile launcher with which they can steer the missile past the target, then turn it to hit from behind or above.
  • Halo: Reach and Halo 4 features a fairly realistic laser designator for artillery strikes in some missions (albeit the Halo 4 use is at such close range they should've been able to do it by eye).
  • In The Last Remnant, David's Remnant, Gae Bolg functions like this with David using the similar, scaled down version, Ex Machina as a targeting device. Ex Machina itself doubles as a Hand Cannon.
  • Mass Effect 3 features a boss battle where Shepard, on foot, uses a designator to call down the firepower of an entire battle fleet on a Reaper Destroyer.
  • Some levels in Modern Warfare 2 give you a button you can press to emit a Laser Sight from your gun for the purpose of aiming something larger. The singleplayer mission "Exodus" has it pulling double-duty to target for a friendly Stryker armored vehicle then artillery strikes on enemy AA guns, while the cooperative Spec Ops mission "Overwatch" allows the first player to use it to direct fire from the second at the guns of an AC-130 gunship.
  • This is how the protagonist offs the final boss in Persona 5, using his model pistol to aim and fire his ultimate Persona Satanael's massive gun for a Boom, Headshot!.
  • By the same token, the Harbinger/Supernova designator of Ratchet: Deadlocked.
  • Resident Evil 5 gives the player a pointlessly huge laser designator to use against its largest boss. It's about the size of a rocket launcher. Chris then reuses it in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as one of his Hyper Combos.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, you eventually obtain a "gun" that paints a laser designator to rain down missiles from the sky. That being said, the "gun" looks more like a modified police speed radar than anything else...
  • The Satellite Laser from Shadow the Hedgehog is similar.
  • In StarCraft, Ghosts send laser-guided nuclear strikes.
  • Starsiege: Tribes and the sequel feature a laser painter that provides mortar and grenade launcher equipped teammates with the direction and elevation for them to fire at a target as well as allowing missile locks even without a thermal signature or line-of-sight.
  • While it's not entirely gun-like, Team Fortress 2 has the Engineer's Wrangler, an old-school joystick duct-taped to a pistol grip that lets you aim your Sentry at wherever you are looking and fire it manually.
  • The Ion Painter and Target Painter in Unreal Tournament 2004 act as spotting devices for an orbital satellite and an airborne bombing run, respectively.
    • The Game Mod Ballistic Weapons handles this in an odd manner with one of its mounted weapons, the J2329 HAMR - one of its Secondary Fire functions sends out a sort of energy-tracer, only visible through the weapon's aiming mode, that matches the ballistics of the main gun to let you aim more accurately without wasting ammo.


    Western Animation 
  • Pictured above is one of the myriad of video game-like weapons Coop installed in his Humongous Mecha from Megas XLR. In this case, it's an actual Plasma Cannon that operates like an arcade Light Gun Game, even including the typical "Reload" message from when ammo runs out.

    Real Life 
  • A related concept is the spotting rifle, a special rifle or machine gun that is usually directly attached to a cannon or rocket launcher, its ballistics calibrated so that if you hit your target with the little gun, you'll hit it with the big one. Sometimes pulls double duty as a coaxial anti-infantry weapon.
    • Relatedly, tank crews during World War II would sometimes use their coaxial machine guns as impromptu sighting rifles for the main cannon if the range was very short (the trajectory of the machine gun usually diverged from that of the cannon after about a couple hundred meters).
  • Before the advent of laser-guided weapons, the usual method of marking targets for friendly aircraft and sometimes artillery was with coloured smoke, preferably with shells from a mortar but often thrown by hand (such as the US M18 smoke grenade) or launched from an underbarrel Grenade Launcher (like the M713, M715, and M716 grenades).
  • The British Army Air Corps issues its Apache helicopter crews carbines with magazines of 100% red tracer for this purpose; if they're brought down, their wingmates will concentrate their fire on whatever that stream of tracers is aimed at. The same tactic is occasionally used by regular infantry with a machine gun, but only if they've lost radio contact.
  • The US military considered applying this trope to sniper bullets to increase the efficiency of... well, their snipers. Though the prohibitive cost of the laser-recognizing bullets, and advances in actual laser weapons, eventually rendered this moot.