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Shoot Your Mate

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Green Lantern would probably come out unharmed, but bullets are pretty much always yellow, which is not good for him.
"Every profession has occupational hazards. Butchers cut themselves, house painters fall off ladders, and operatives get asked to help kill their own people."
Michael Westen, Burn Notice, "Question and Answer"

The hero is in the role of a Fake Defector. One of their friends has been captured. The Big Bad hands the hero a gun and tells them to kill them. The gun is almost always empty.

One of two things usually happens. They pull the trigger and nothing happens, or they point the gun at the Big Bad and nothing happens. In the latter case, their cover is pretty much blown.

In extremely rare situations, if the gun is actually loaded, the tested subject may succeed at pulling the trigger, injuring or even outright killing the Big Bad.

In addition, if the good guys are using this ploy, they will be careful to commend the testee's reluctance to pull the trigger, since killing should never be easy. (Well, it depends on the person.)

Note for the Yanks here that "mate" is used in the British slang meaning of "friend", not necessarily one's actual mate, though occasionally killing your spouse or lover is used as a particularly strong test.

This is a subtrope of Allegiance Affirmation, and If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!. It is often used as a stage in Bring Them Around — once the character has done something, it's harder for him to leave.

Compare Involuntary Battle to the Death, Finish Him!, Deadly Graduation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Gunsmith Cats, where Rally is asked to kill an ATF agent to prove her loyalty to some gun-runners. She knows by weight that the gun is unloaded, asks for a bullet, and shoots the ATF agent's bonds, releasing him.
  • In Sailor Moon, fake defectors Sailor Uranus and Neptune are asked by the Big Bad Sailor Galaxia to kill Sailor Pluto and Saturn by removing their Star Seeds. Which, in a subversion, they do. After that, when they try to attack Galaxia herself, it doesn't work because she doesn't have a Star Seed because she removed it long ago. Uranus and Neptune themselves get offed instead.
  • Full Metal Panic!. When one of Gauron's mooks has Kurz Weber pinned down, he suggests Kurz surrender and let himself be taken to the Big Bad. "If you shoot one of the crew in front of him, he'll let you join us." Kurz decides being a backstabbing mook wouldn't go with his cool image, and kills the mook instead.
  • One arc in Darker than Black has the Syndicate ordering Huang to kill a Contractor he was once romantically involved with (and betrayed by) in order to test his loyalty while getting rid of a potential information leak — with orders given to Hei and Mao to kill him if he doesn't follow through. Neither party can bring themselves to do it, and the Contractor in question ends up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice so Huang would be spared.
  • Kurau Phantom Memory: While undercover, Kurau is told to shoot the hostage she is secretly trying to rescue. She uses her powers to make the gun misfire, successfully convincing all but one of the mooks that they can trust her.
  • One Piece:
    • Earlier, Nami, while pretending to join Buggy and "betraying" her captain, was told by him to fire a cannon ball at Luffy. The funny thing was that at this point, Nami wasn't even part of Luffy's crew yet and was simply using Luffy as a means to an end. However, Nami noticeably hesitated because she hated pirates and didn't want to lower herself to their level by killing another human being.
    • Later, Arlong asks her to stab Usopp. She proceeds to, in a smokescreen, stab her own hand and dump his body, allowing him to escape.
  • In Ceres, Celestial Legend, Aya Mikage's father is forced by her grandfather to shoot her to keep the family safe from the curse. He instead tries to shoot his own father, but the gun isn't loaded. Both die anyway.
  • Naruto:
    • Uchiha Itachi, leaving aside the whole parricide thing, negotiates some of these rather smoothly in his first real-time appearance. Specifically, he beats the crap out of and tortures several people who he would have killed if he'd had to, but would rather not, and one who he definitely wouldn't have. Doesn't kill anybody. And gets away with it, looking like a Magnificent Bastard. Not giving a damn covereth a multitude of mercies. Of course, Madara already knows he's a Fake Defector.
    • Earlier in the show He is asked to kill his entire family to prove that he is committed to ending the potential civil war. Unlike in most cases, he's not a fake defector and willingly goes through with it, in exchange for sparing Sasuke
  • Nicholas Wolfwood from Trigun is not British, so he just calls Vash his "buddy" and his "pal" despite being The Mole, and in the anime the beardless apple-fetishist version of Original Chapel turns up in the episode after he shoots Zazie the Beast and tells him his orders to protect Vash are off; now he gets to join the parade of those assigned to kill him. And by the way, he's been promoted to full Gung-Ho Gun. It doesn't work out. But at least his death scene is cool!
  • Rena Mizuhashi a.k.a. Kir from Case Closed has such a lousy luck that she had to do this twice. First, to her father and partner in their mole mission in the Black Organization, Ethan Hondou. And later, to her fellow Mole Shuichi Akai. (Though Akai is revealed later to have survived).
  • In essence, a sword variant of this happens in Bleach. To truly convince Aizen that he's totally loyal and to make sure she stays out of the equation where Aizen can't kill her like anybody else who goes up against him, Gin Ichimaru stabs his Only Friend and Morality Pet Rangiku in the chest and leaves her bleeding on the roof of a building. However, he specifically gave her a wound shallow enough for her to survive and only told Aizen that he'd disposed of her. He double crosses Aizen not long afterward.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin: Subverted when Robin and Batgirl start watching over Bludhaven, they attempt to take out the seeds of the Penguin's organization, and they end up faking a fight; Batgirl lets him win in such a way that makes it look like she's dead. The Penguin isn't convinced, and tells Robin to shoot her "corpse". He does. She doesn't react. The Penguin lets down his guard, and Batgirl springs into motion. Later, when Batgirl and Robin have escaped:
    Robin: How can you take a bullet and not bat an eye?
    Batgirl: You know that... kid game, "two for flinching"?
    Robin: Yeah. Oh, no. Don't tell me—
    Batgirl: My... dad and I played something like that.
  • In IDW's G.I. Joe: COBRA series, Chuckles is asked to kill his lover Jinx, while undercover. He actually does it. The series goes out of the way to paint G.I. Joe as almost as vicious as Cobra, at times.
  • In one story, The Punisher is attempting to infiltrate a South American drug cartel. He is handed a rifle and told to shoot a captured DEA agent. The Punisher instead tries to turn the gun on the drug boss, only to find it has been rigged not to fire.
  • Subverted in Les Innommables: An American scientist claims he has reversed Chinese brainwashing techniques and proposes to demonstrate in front of high-ranking officers. He gives one of the two Chinese prisoners a gun, and tells him to shoot the other. The man immediately perks up and empties the gun... into the generals. Turns out the gun had been given to the wrong man.
  • When Emiko Queen is seemingly forced to betray Green Arrow at her mother's behest, she's asked to disfigure a Bound and Gagged Black Canary to prove that she's no longer loyal to the heroes. This proves to be too much for Emiko, which leads her to reveal that her defection was a ruse.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the pro wrestling alternate universe story The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas, crime boss Charlotte Flair gives one to Tessa Blanchard and demands she shoot her mentor, Magnum T.A., as a show of loyalty, as Tessa has already deduced Charlotte only brought her to Las Vegas to keep her father, Tully Blanchard, a long-time member of the Flair crime family, in line (if he tries anything, she will be killed). Tessa subverts the situation by pointing the gun at the ceiling and firing, revealing it isn't loaded and saying, "You'd never hand me a loaded gun."
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Double agent Jo Lupo proves her loyalty to the Collective by stabbing Riley Finn in the back. Or so they think. Jo knows that exposure to the T-virus has given Finn a decent Healing Factor, and being Left for Dead gives him more freedom of action.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Blue Streak, Martin Lawrence's character, Miles Logan, is told to shoot his murderous ex-partner by a group of drug traffics, in order to prove he's not a cop. Since he hates the guy, Miles just says "no problem" and shoots him in the arm. When told that he was supposed to kill him, Miles replies "Well you didn't say kill him, you just 'shoot him'!". When told to kill instead, it's then that Miles can't seem to do it.
  • The opening of In the Line of Fire uses this. Clint Eastwood's character is ordered by a gang of counterfeiters to kill his young partner. Naturally, the gun is unloaded. Later his partner nervously says, "You knew the gun was unloaded, right? You could tell from the weight of the gun?" Eastwood responds, "Well, there may have been one bullet (in the chamber)."
  • At the end of Cthulhu, the protagonist is told by his father to kill his gay lover ("The man you love; what greater sacrifice!") to appease the Old Ones and become the leader of his father's cult. The movie ends without us knowing whether or not he does so.
  • In the original Stargate film, Daniel Jackson is ordered by Ra to kill his companions in order to prove his loyalty to the sun god, so that the workers won't question his authority. Although Daniel did not board Ra's ship as a spy in the first place, when the time comes he acts for a few moments as if he is really going to obey the order. Then he turns around and shoots at Ra instead.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum reveals that the final test of Jason Bourne's training was to kill someone. The person wasn't any one that Bourne knew, but neither was Bourne given any reason to justify killing him, other than that it was his orders. It was quite a moral struggle for him to decide whether to obey.
  • Solo. Qi'ra herself suggests this as the only way to prove her loyalty; after being caught lying about Han's intentions, she says the only way to prove she has greater loyalty to the Big Bad is to kill the man she loves. Fortunately we never see how far she's willing to go to survive, as other events intercede and she kills the Big Bad instead.
  • Played with in The Soldier, where a terrorist informer must denounce a fellow terrorist, who is executed on the spot by a Mossad agent. Turns out the executed man was actually a Mossad Deep Cover Agent who was Faking the Dead.
  • Red (2010): Victoria recounts at one point how she was in love with a Russian agent. She was assigned to kill him, and sums it up with "I shot him three times in the chest." That agent was Ivan, who realized she didn't want to kill him - else she would have shot him in the head - and loves her to this day.

  • There's an old joke/urban legend told about the armed forces (doesn't matter which country, the agency names can be easily swapped out). A recruit is handed a gun and told that the final test is to go into a room and shoot whoever they find there. The first goes in, finds his wife or mother, and immediately turns around and leaves. Repeat with various branches of the military, until the Navy SEAL/SAS/FBI agent goes in, and comes out 5 minutes later. "Some idiot loaded the gun with blanks! I had to strangle them to death/beat them to death with the chair."
  • Another variation is that several men from some organization (usually the FBI) are each told to kill their respective spouse. The first few men can't but the woman goes through the whole chair-beating thing. An episode of House has the same joke with a "sister from Brooklyn".

  • In Visser, a novel set in the Animorphs universe, it is revealed that the Yeerk Visser One has maternal emotions for two human children. She denies this when on trial for treason, and is told to prove it by killing one of them. She is able to stall for just long enough, that the Animorphs attack making this a moot test. Although, it's implied she really would have done it.
  • The Dead Can Wait by Robert Ryan. A German Femme Fatale Spy says that for the passing out test at the Sie Wolfe Spy School they had to hunt down live targets, and in her case the target was her roommate who hadn't come up to scratch, but couldn't be released because the camp was top secret. It might have made her overly paranoid, as her behaviour verges on the psychopathic and at one point she murders a dentist in their Underground Railroad, thinking he's planning to kill her after her mission fails, only to wonder afterwards if she just imagined it.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe :
    • In one of the novels, members of the X-wing/commando group Wraith Squadron are disguised as pirates, having a job interview with the Big Bad, when he asks them to shoot another squadron member, who had infiltrated the ship without their knowledge. One of them does it, because she realizes he was already dead, despite the bad guys' attempts to cover it up. It's an interesting variation on the trope. The reader doesn't know and neither do the other Wraiths — Dia tells them that he was dead, and it's implied by the bad guy's dialogue, but the last time we'd seen the dead character alive he was about to be captured and had used his last shot to destroy a datapad with his ID. Plus, after explaining her reasoning Dia went into a Heroic BSoD, crying that the girl she used to be never would have shot him. It's very ambiguous.
    • Later in that novel, two scientists who were in charge of a facility from which something had escaped were brought before the Big Bad Zsinj, who handed each of the two a blaster. The superior balked; the other shot her superior and gave the blaster back. Zsinj asked her why she did that. She told him that she thought that had been the unspoken order - if she'd fired at Zsinj it would not have worked, and she is valuable enough that if she had committed suicide it would have been a waste. Amused (and having determined that the superior was the one at fault), Zsinj promotes her.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In Warriors: The Darkest Hour, Stonefur, a half-Clan cat is told to kill two half-Clan apprentices to prove his loyalty. He refuses, sacrificing his life to save the apprentices.
    • Later on, when Ivypool is acting as a spy for the Clans in the Dark Forest, the Dark Forest cats, suspicious of her loyalty, order her to "kill" Flametail, a StarClan spirit that got lost and found his way to the Dark Forest. She attacks him, but is stopped by the cat's brother. Even though she didn't actually wipe out his spirit, this still secures the Dark Forest's trust in her.
      • Later on, Ivypool is ordered to kill (later eradicate) Antpelt. This time, she actually kills him.
    • In a subversion of Forced to Watch, Darktail tells a dying Needletail that he would spare her life if she killed her friend Violetpaw for him, or be drowned as punishment for the latter's failed attempt to infiltrate the Kin. Needletail actually subverts this trope by feigning an attack against Violetpaw, before turning against the Kin and attacking them, allowing Violetpaw a chance to escape to the remaining Clans. She is brutally killed as a result of this. Bonus points for one of said killers being her former best friend, who happily instigated her death.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Pyramids, Teppic goes up for his Assassin final, the last step of which is shooting what may be a dummy and may be one of his friends, who failed the final. He decides to not do it — and not do it with style, by firing off his crossbow at something else. The bolt hits something metal, ricochets, and hits the dummy (or person) neatly. He passes, though not without criticism for his unnecessary use of Improbable Aiming Skills. Earlier in the book, the same tutor had mentioned the trope by lecturing his class that a "client" might well hire Assassins of his own for protection, even the students with whom they now shared a desk, and this was perfectly right and proper.
  • Sharpe's Tiger:
    • Anti-hero protagonist Richard Sharpe and his ally William Lawford are sent by the British Army to infiltrate the rebel stronghold of Serignapatham and rescue intelligence agent Colonel McCandless. To prove his loyalty to the Sultan of Tippo, Sharpe is given a loaded musket and told to kill McCandless. Naturally, the musket doesn't fire properly. Sharpe later tells Lawford that he knew the gunpowder used to prime the musket was bad before he fired. However, he makes it perfectly clear later, that if the powder had been good he would have shot McCandless anyways to keep his cover.
    • Subverted later in the novel: when British scouts are seen outside the fortress walls, Sharpe and Lawford are given rifles and told to shoot the scouts. Sharpe tries in earnest to kill one of the scouts but his shot goes wide; Lawford tries to shoot wide of his target but ends up killing the soldier by mistake.
    • Played extremely straight in Sharpe's Challenge, the TV episode adapted in part from Sharpe's Tiger. Sharpe and his Lancer, Sergeant Harper, are the Fake Defectors. Sharpe is ordered to kill Harper using a musket he just loaded, but at the last moment he realises (from the smell) that the powder is bad and the shot won't fire, so he goes along with it.
  • Warhammer 40,000 novels:
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this is carried through to its fatal conclusion. Jon Snow is forced to do this at the orders of his Night's Watch superior officer Qhorin Halfhand, who sacrifices himself. Qhorin and Jon are being hunted by wildlings, and Qhorin orders Jon to pretend to defect so he can infiltrate the wildlings and do whatever is asked of him so he can get accepted by them, learn their plans, and report back to the Night's Watch. Before they'll accept Jon, they order him to kill Qhorin and he is forced to. Qhorin had known this would happen and planned for it to carry out this way.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Snape decides with a horde of Death Eaters bearing witness to do what Draco Malfoy cannot bring himself to do: kill the helpless, wandless Dumbledore. Snape's response? "Avada Kedavra!" Of course, it later turns out that Dumbledore was terminally ill and arranged for Snape to kill him so that he could gain Voldemort's complete trust.
  • At least two examples in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series:
    • The final breaking of a Mord-Sith entails the girl killing her father.
    • In the second book, two graduating wizards are told one of them will be serving the Keeper, and the other will die so that they can steal his magical gift. The one who agrees to serve is handed a knife and told to skin the other.
  • Played with in a Russian short story (no translation available). The undercover cop is ordered to kill his childhood friend, and he promptly pulls the trigger. It turns out that he had secretly been training himself to count the number of rounds in a magazine, judging by the weight of the gun, so he was almost sure that nothing would happen. His friend didn't know that, and was genuinely pissed, so they parted.
  • In Honor's Knight, second book of the Paradox Trilogy, Caldswell tests Rupert's loyalty by asking him to shoot his love interest, Devi. He does. It turns out to be an illusion.
  • Diogenes Club: "In You Don't Have to be Mad...", Vanessa is given a pistol and instructed to shoot one of the staff who is kneeling in front of her. Because of the conditioning she has been undergoing, Vanessa knows that this is a test, but is unsure if the correct response is to shoot the woman or to refuse to shoot her. She splits the difference, and fires past the woman's head, shooting her ear off in the process.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 has done it on four occasions:
    • Season 1: Jack on Nina (he pulls the trigger, but she's wearing a Bulletproof Vest). Although the fact that she's wearing one is unknown to both the audience and her.
    • Season 3: Jack on Chase (gun empty)
    • Season 4: Dina Araz on Jack (tries to shoot the Big Bad, but the gun is empty)
    • Season 7: Jack on Renee (shoots past her shoulder to give her a suitably bloody looking wound- then Jack and Tony are told to bury her... Fortunately, Bill Buchanan is near enough to rescue her)
  • Game of Thrones: Jon has to kill Qhorin Halfhand (with Qhorin's consent) to convince the Wildlings he's defecting to their side.
  • Miami Vice did this one effectively. Tubbs was deep undercover and ordered to kill Sonny to prove his loyalty, so he walks up to Sonny and, without a word or hesitation, shoots him point-blank. Awesome scene. (Naturally, Sonny was wearing a Bulletproof Vest.)
  • A similar scene happens in the first episode of Wiseguy. In that case the target is a District Attorney, with Vinnie Terranova shooting him. Though what DA would effectively end his career by remaining out of sight for the years Vinnie was undercover is another question.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In the episode "Repression", Chakotay tells Tuvok to phaser Janeway to prove his loyalty to Chakotay's mutiny. Tuvok pulls the trigger. Later, he explains to Janeway that he logically deduced that if Chakotay doubted Tuvok's loyalty, he would not have given Tuvok a working phaser. She finds this logic to be less than ironclad.
      • Especially given "Initiations". Chakotay is given a phaser and told to kill Kar, a Kazon Child Soldier that Chakotay took prisoner, disgracing him in the eyes of the other Kazon. Chakotay is told he'll be released if he kills Kar, but he uses the weapon to escape with Kar instead. Their leader was trying to demonstrate that an enemy you don't kill will kill you instead, so it makes sense he'd have to give Chakotay a working phaser.
    • A variation appears in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Die Is Cast". Garak takes the role of a Fake Defector (though he seemed to have convinced himself it's genuine) for reasons which are complicated, and is ordered to torture Odo, both to get information and test Garak's commitment to his defection. Garak goes through with it despite some reluctance, since someone else would have done so if Garak hadn't, and he couldn't refuse without losing the trust of the bad guys. Odo has nothing useful to reveal but in the end admits that despite his people's evil actions, he does have a desire to return to the Great Link. The shock of how far he would go torturing Odo, the complete uselessness of the information he finally obtained (other than to drive home how similar the two men are in their desire to go "home" and be with their own kind), and the magnitude of how all this affected him, make Garak realize he really is a fake defector and he can't just go back to his old life anymore. When his superiors ask what results he obtained in his session, Garak lies on Odo's behalf and says he never broke. The two of them end up becoming something like friends afterwards, commiserating their isolation and sharing a mutual respect.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "The Mind's Eye", Geordi is brainwashed into a Manchurian Agent assassin by the Romulans, and is tested by being ordered to kill a holographic Chief O'Brien. He briefly hesitates before finally doing it, prompting the lead Romulan to order another brainwashing session.
      • A form of this is used at the end of the two-part episode "Descent". Lore orders Data to kill Captain Picard in order to prove his loyalty. Data actually had defected at one point. However, by now, Picard and the others have managed to reboot Data's ethical program and so Data simply refuses to shoot Picard.
      • It's not set up by the bad guys, but in "Gambit", Riker has fallen into the role of Fake Defector on a mercenary ship, and when the Enterprise shows up he cements his cover by firing on them after ostensibly taking down their shields with his command codes. (What actually happens is that Data lowers the shields himself, trusting that Riker must have a good reason for wanting them down, Riker sets the weapons to almost zero power, and Data fakes taking damage.)
  • Alias:
    • A variation on this trope was used when Sydney was pretending to have been psychologically conditioned to turn her into an evil assassin, she was asked to kill somebody to prove herself. She didn't know who the person was or why the enemy wanted him dead, but she kills him to protect her cover. This becomes a plot point in a later episode, when Sydney realizes that the man she killed was the brother of a terrorist they were trying to talk out of blowing up a plane.
    • In another episode, Jack was captured by the bad guy of the week and tried to convince him that he's a Double Agent in SD-6. In the course of this, the bad guy captures Sydney (who also happens to be a SD-6 double agent), and tells Jack to prove he's a double by killing her. Jack and Sydney manage to work out a way to take down the bad guy and his henchmen.
    • In still another episode, a situation similar to this was presented to Will as part of his CIA psychology test. It was essentially, if you were given a gun with one bullet and told to shoot your mother or your father, who would you shoot? Sydney tells him (paraphrasing) that the answer is to shoot yourself, as attacking the mother figure indicates you would first betray your friends/mentors and attacking the father figure indicates you would betray your country. We're never shown what answer Will selected.
  • An episode of the 1950s TV show Tom Corbett: Space Cadet had the leader of some Space Pirates pull the unloaded-gun trick on member of the Space Patrol who was contemplating a Face–Heel Turn. He falls for it, but then he wasn't very bright in the first place.
  • An episode of Sharpe has Sharpe being ordered by the enemy commander to shoot Harper while they're masquerading as turncoats. It's more a test of Sharpe's skill than loyalty though, since the commander wants to see if he knows that the powder is too damp to fire.
  • Inverted beautifully in Leverage, when Nate is undercover with the mob, trying to manipulate a banker they're associated with into snitching on them. Just when he discovers that it's the banker who's running the orginization, and not the mobster, Eliot gets nabbed snooping around and gets hauled over to them. Nate makes it look like Eliot is an undercover cop who is dealing with mobster. Big boss orders Mobster to Shoot His Mate. Although Mobster has never seen Eliot before, he is hesitant because he doesn't want to be a cop killer, which is seen as a sign of guilt. Things are getting heated when Eliot is suddenly shot multiple times and killed. Everyone turns to see Sophie holding a smoking gun. So, basically, Nate avoids getting himself in a Shoot Your Mate situation by conning the Big Bad into thinking a random Minor Bad is the defector, and forcing HIM to Shoot His (supposed) Mate. Then Sophie shows up and Shoots Her Mate. Sort of. It makes sense, really.
    • Another variation from Leverage: In The Big Bang Job, Eliot reveals that he has a long history with arc villain Damien Moreau and unexpectedly takes the lead on The Con he's pulling with Hardison. Moreau has Hardison handcuffed to a chair and then kicks the chair into a swimming pool. Eliot is forced to calmly continue negotiations as Hardison struggles to free himself, or risk Moreau realizing his Heel–Face Turn. Very luckily indeed, Hardison not only manages to escape on his own with a brilliant bit of MacGyvering, but he too stays in character, further selling their commitment to the deal.
  • Heroes:
    • In season 1, future Nathan tells future Suresh to kill the helpless present Hiro.
    • In season 3, Hiro tries to infiltrate a mercenary group and is challenged to kill his non-powered sidekick to prove he's badass enough. In this instance, Hiro Takes a Third Option by freezing time, teleporting to a prop store, stealing a fake, collapsable sword, and using that one on his sidekick. It resembles Hiro's real sword enough that the two villains fell for it
  • Caprica:
    • One of the Soldiers of the One recruits knows that his friend is going to be killed soon, so he specifically goes to his superiors and tells them he'll stay out of it. They give him a gun and tell him to shoot her himself. He, of course, turns it on them, and, of course, it's empty. Subverted in that its insinuated he went to his bosses knowing this would happen, so that he could set up an ambush and save the girl.
    • While Zoe-A is still pretending to simply be the Cylon prototype, Daniel (who suspects she's in there, but isn't sure, and wants to find out the truth), gives her a gun and orders the robot to shoot his dog. He knows that Zoe loves the dog and would obviously have trouble shooting it, whereas the robot itself would do so without hesitating. She shoots, but it turns out that the gun was full of blanks anyway. Also, Zoe-A sensed that there were blanks in the gun since apparently "the weight wasn't right", so fired. She later tells her friend that if the gun had been loaded, she might have shot her father instead.
  • In Nikita Michael is ordered by Percy to shoot Alex since they just discovered that Alex was The Mole working with Nikita. Michael instead tries to shoot Percy but the gun is booby trapped to stun the person who presses the trigger. Percy was just messing with Michael since he already knew that Michael was also working with Nikita.
  • Wild Boys: Jack attempts to infiltrate the Butler Gang only to find that Mick has been captured by them. Frank Butler thinks Jack might be there to free him, but Jack instead claims he followed Mick there in order to kill him. Butler gives Jack a gun with one bullet and tells him to shoot Mick. Jack does so, shooting Mick through the shoulder and Mick has enough nous to play dead.
  • Burn Notice does this from time to time; in the instance the page quote is referring to, Sam (posing as a Corrupt Cop) is being asked to help kill Michael (posing as a junkie snitch). They manage to arrange for Michael to escape without it looking like Sam's fault.
  • The Mentalist: In "The Crimson Hat", Jane is instructed by one of Red John's lackeys to kill his trusty friend and partner Lisbon to prove he's had a change of heart.
  • Lost Girl: The Lich demands that Bo feed from Lauren, so that he can finally experience passion. When Lauren urges Bo to take a small amount, the Lich clarifies he wants Bo to drain her. When she refuses, the Lich shoots Bo and prepares to kill and eat Lauren himself. It does not end well for him.
  • The Invisible Man has a similar case, when Darien is pretending to have defected to the villain's side. Accordingly, they ask him to take out one of their other bio-enhanced agents, one who Darien has romantic feelings for. Darien, not being an idiot, realizes that it's a test of loyalty when he shows up to dinner with his date looking awfully chunky thanks to the bulletproof vest under her sweater.
  • In an episode of Castle, Ryan goes undercover as a member of the Irish mob. His boss finds out his ex-girlfriend was a snitch, brings her to him, hands him a gun, says kill her or you're both dead. Exactly as described above, he threatens to kill his boss instead, and discovers the gun was messed with and won't fire. (Too bad for the mob boss, Esposito's and Beckett's guns work much better.)
  • Subverted in Farscape. Villains force Rygel to Shoot Your Mate, but as it's Big Bad-turned-ally Scorpius, this doesn't bother him much.
    Scorpius: How did you know I was wearing body armor?
    Rygel: I wasn't sure, but... Not so bad for me either way.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: One episode villain does this to Sam Hanna, telling him to kill the kidnapped Saudi prince Sam's been sent undercover to retrieve. Sam hands the gun back, telling the villain he should trust him and give him a gun that's loaded.
  • Person of Interest: In "Blue Code", an undercover cop shoots Reese, but just grazes him so he'll bleed.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Ninety Pounds of Trouble," Starsky's cover is blown, and Hutch is ordered to kill him. As Starsky's walking down the street, Hutch shoots him in the stomach with a blank, then walks away while Starsky plays dead.
  • The Boys (2019): In "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men", Homelander orders Starlight to kill Hughie Campbell, suspecting (accurately) that she is in league with him. When she hesitates, he threatens to kill both of them. Being something of a Death Seeker by that point, Hughie quietly gives her the nod, but fortunately the rest of The Boys pull a Big Damn Heroes. In the next episode Homelander is ready to kill Starlight, assuming from her hesitation that his suspicions are correct, but Starlight convinces him she just didn't want to carry out a Vigilante Execution.
  • The opening scene of Treadstone involves CIA agent John Bentley killing three captured CIA agents as a final test of his brainwashing. He later finds video tapes of his brainwashed alter ego torturing a CIA collegue, and in the penultimate episode he's placed in a room with another brainwashed agent and a disassembled pistol with one bullet, and told that only one of them can leave the room alive.
  • Arrow:
    • Oliver Queen's first assignment for Amanda Waller is to kill his friend Tommy Merlyn, who suspects Oliver is alive in Hong Kong and has come looking for him. If he doesn't, someone else will do the job anyway, so Oliver is able to Take a Third Option by staging a fake kidnapping for ransom to convince Tommy it was all a plot by criminals to lure him there.
    • When Oliver becomes a member of the League of Assassins he is subject to weeks of brainwashing. John Diggle is then brought before him and Oliver is required to kill him as proof that he has left his past self behind, which he does. It's then revealed he was drugged and actually killed another Assassin as part of his brainwashing. The scenario gets played out for real later, in a cliffhanger where Oliver locks his friends in a room with a Deadly Gas.
    • A variation happens in the Season 4 flashbacks when Oliver Queen has infiltrated a mercenary group on Lian Yu. He tries to assure the slave workers that he is on their side, but as they've already witnessed Oliver killing one of their own (in self-defense) they are skeptical and insist that Oliver kill one of the other mercenaries as proof. As this is well before Oliver has a Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, and the mercenary concerned is a personal enemy of Oliver, he does.

  • In "Two Friends" by Russian horror punk rock group King and Jester, the eponymous friends are intercepted by a bunch of brigands. As one of them starts pleading for his life and says he would do anything, the leader hands him a knife and tells him to kill his friend. He obliges immediately, but it was a Secret Test of Character and the murderer is promptly tied face-to-face with the corpse and Buried Alive.

    Video Games 
  • This scenario crops up in the climax of the next-gen version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, where undercover agent Sam is ordered to kill his boss, Irving Lambert, who has been captured by the terrorists. The gun you're given is loaded with 1 bullet, and you're given the choice of either shooting Lambert to maintain your cover, or turning the gun on the terrorist in the room who was left behind with orders to kill you if you hesitated. The canonical ending to the game is that he shoots his boss. A CG trailer revises the scene by showing a stoic Lambert looking down the barrel of Sam's gun and simply stating "Finish your mission".
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Not the Hero of the game, but The Boss was ordered by Volgin to gouge out Snake's eyes in order to prove her loyalty. Somehow she managed to avoid doing this without blowing her cover (it doesn't hurt that Ocelot and EVA managed to be distracting) - unfortunately, it didn't stop Snake from losing one of his eyes for other reasons.
  • Used in the Sam & Max episode The Mole, The Mob and The Meatball. Sam and Max pretend to have been hypnotised by the villain, but he's not convinced. As a test, he orders Sam to shoot Max. Sam has a gun of his own, but he also has a harmless cap gun, which he uses to shoot Max.
  • The final moral choice in Army of Two: The 40th Day is to either kill the Big Bad, Jonah, and activate his Dead Man's Switch, or get him to disarm the bomb by showing him "true sacrifice" and having either Rios or Salem kill the other. Either way, the detonator was a fake and there is no bomb.
  • Used in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. At one point, Harper is captured and Menendez orders Farid to shoot him. The alternative is trying to kill Menendez. Shooting Harper is actually the right choice; trying to kill Menendez just gets Farid killed, and then he can't save Chloe later on, and Chloe needs to survive if you want the Golden Ending.
  • In FreeSpace 2, one set of missions tasks you to infiltrate the radical the Neo-Terran Front. In the final mission, a civilian transport carrying refugees enters the combat area and your wingmen demand that you destroy it to prove your loyalty to the NTF. If you refuse to destroy the transport your wingmen label you a traitor, but if you do destroy it they say they already knew you were a traitor and commend you on so cold-bloodedly maintaing your cover. They turn on you either way.
  • In the final case of Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past, Justin Lawson orders Eddie Lebold/Diego del Lobo, who has been working his way to infiltrate Lawson's inner circle, to shoot his ally Charles Dupont, whom he is working with to take down Lawson.

  • Elgie of Chimneyspeak had to do this, since he was contracted to kill a man, then made a friend, and didn't realize they were the same person.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: A rather jealous Jinx demands Vi shoot Caitlyn in return for Powder coming back and being siblings again. Vi of course can't accept that trade off.
  • In Justice League, exposed agent Hawkgirl was asked by fellow Thanagarian soldier Kragger to kill the captured Justice Leaguers. She took the pistol, but explained that killing the superheroes will only anger and ignite the Earth's population to retaliate. While her explanation is reasonable, it only strengthens his suspicion against her loyalty.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars:
    • Dinobot genuinely did want to change sides and become a Predacon again, but when Megatron told him to kill Rattrap as proof of his loyalty, Dinobot ultimately couldn't go through with it. Which was good because Megatron was going to stab him in the back anyway.
    • The opposite occured as well a season earlier. Rattrap was pretending to have betrayed the Maximals for the Predacons, and Megatron demanded he shoot Dinobot as proof of his loyalty. He didn't.
      • Although subverted in that same episode when Rattrap was ordered to attack Optimus who was flying overhead attacking them. While he at first fires intentional misses, when Terrorsaur gets suspicious he does actually land a glancing shot causes him to crash. Optimus later laments that he didn't have to "look that convincing" but Rattrap figured Optimus was tough enough to take the hit and used it to preserve his cover.
  • Brother Blood of Teen Titans (2003) gave Cyborg a special weapon which amplified his powers, to prove his loyalty to the H.I.V.E. he had to shoot the Titans. Psych! Cyborg turns around and shoots Brother Blood!
  • In Exo Squad the title crew is captured by the Neosapiens (rebellious artificial super-humans) after an ostensible betrayal by a Neosapien crew member Marsala. The Neosapien leader Phaeton decides to pull the Shoot Your Mate on Marsala and orders him to kill his ex-comrades. Marsala receives an obligatory "How could you?! After all we went through together!" reprimand from the humans, responds with a heartfelt and hateful speech about human oppression of his people...and naturally shoots the Neosapiens. However the second part of the trope is subverted as Phaeton turned out dumb enough to actually give him a loaded gun.
  • In one episode of All Dogs Go to Heaven, Charlie tried to Face–Heel Turn and was asked to kill Itchy. Which is no biggie, since, y'know, All Dogs Go to Heaven.
  • Near the end of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker's infamous Wham Flashback, the Joker managed to smash Batman up, even so far as to shank him in the leg and send him plummeting to the ground, where he picked ol' Bruce up and tossed a "Bang!" Flag Gun to Robin so he could "deliver the punchline". An interesting twist is that Robin wasn't actually trying to infiltrate the Joker's organization; the Joker had kidnapped Robin, and spent weeks torturing him, and wanted to prove that he had broken Robin's mind.
  • In an episode of Biker Mice from Mars, Limburger tries to get Modo to join them by offering him a new fancy artificial arm. Modo pretends to go along with it to find out what Limburger's latest scheme is. Naturally, he is told to prove his loyalty by shooting Throttle and Vinnie as they drive by the tower. He does and Limburger is pleased. Of course, they were actually dummies with the bikes being operated by remote control.

Alternative Title(s): Shoot Your Friend