Ever notice how in hostage situations, someone just has to jam the gun into the person's back for them to know you mean business? The victim can't see the weapon, so sometimes a resourceful, desperate, and usually good person takes advantage of that by using some random stick or anything that remotely resembles the shape of a barrel to hold someone at "gunpoint".
Sometimes the deception extends beyond the victim to the audience as well. Until The Reveal, anyway.
- An early Trigun episode plays the "finger" version straight.
- Kirihara in Darker Than Black, while shopping, stuck her battle lipstick into the back of someone resembling BK-201. Who was BK-201 in civil identity... that is an awkward lad she already knew, so he only had to explain buying a bra and a wig without mentioning he hides someone from Yakuza.
- This happens in Tintin at least twice.
- Standard procedure in Alan Ford due to the lack of funds of the T.N.T. Group, forcing the agents to routinely keep people under the threat of broomsticks, pipes, makeshift guns or, if out of options, index fingers with added verbal threats of implausible calibers. Sometimes, the villains are smart enough to figure out in time.
Alan: Freeze! You've got a caliber 74 aimed at your back!
Bad Guy: 74, you said? Wait a minute, [turns around] there's no such gun!
Alan: Oh really?
- Referenced in Ratatouille: one version of what sous-chef Horst did to end up in jail is that he "once robbed the second biggest bank in France using only a ball-point pen."
- In Disney's Robin Hood, Little John saves Robin from being executed by pointing a dagger at Prince John's back and making him to let Robin go.
Little John: Now, P.J., tell my pal to kiss Maid Marian, or I've just found a new pincushion.
- Bandits does this with a permanent marker, a bank security guard and Bruce Willis.
- In Batman Begins, Batman used a stapler for the barrel and the clicking noise to simulate a gun cock.
- Parodied in Field of Dreams, with Ray trying to "kidnap" Terence Mann by faking a gun in his pocket. Terence responded with a crowbar.
- Done in Out of Sight, also with a highlighter or something.
- Done in pant-wetting fashion in True Lies with a tube of lipstick under the chin.
- John Dillinger uses an improvised wooden prop gun to escape prison in Public Enemies. Truth in Television too.
- In the silent film The Kid Brother the good guy gets the drop on the bad guy by pretending that a piece of pipe is a rifle barrel.
- In The Chase, Charlie Sheen kidnaps Kristy Swanson with a Butterfinger bar.
- In Sunset, Earp bluffs a group of thugs into believing a mop handle is a shotgun.
- Accidental example in The Sucker: During a gun fight against the Italian mobsters, Mr. Saroyan walks backward into the pointed finger of a stone statue, which he mistakes for a gun. He drops his own gun and raise hands, before swirling around and trying a karate-chop on the statue's arm — to painful results.
- Done by Anathema Device in Good Omens to get into an American air base. Used with a bit of Exact Words, as she told the soldier to put down his gun or else she will regret what she'll have to do. Her internal monologue continues with, "Because if you don't put down the gun, you'll find out this is a stick and then I will regret having to be shot."
- A variant in the Dresden Files novel Small Favor, where Harry pretends to pull a gun on Kincaid in an argument by sticking his hand in his duster pocket and pretending to make a gun-like shape. Kincaid gives in after a second. Later, when helping a (slightly delirious) Harry into his house, Kincaid checks the pocket and finds it empty, mentioning that he'd had his suspicions.
- Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of the Lopsided Cobweb'', a girl sticks a length of copper pipe in Nick's back, convincing him it's a gun and forcing him to accompany her.
- MacGyver's done this with a broomstick at least once.
- In one episode of The Adventures of Superman, Clark Kent does this with his finger.
Clark: It's just a finger.
Baddie: You got a finger made of steel, buddy.
- The First Doctor does this in Doctor Who with a branch. "The Time Meddler", a.k.a. the Meddling Monk, finds out... and the Doctor threatens to smack him upside the head if he doesn't behave.
- In an episode of the Scottish murder mystery series Taggart, a police detective used a piece of pipe to get an IRA killer to lower his gun. When he realised he's been fooled the IRA man couldn't help laughing.
- The Adventures of Lano and Woodley used fingers in the episode Game Show God.
- Murdoch Mysteries: In "The Murdoch Identity", Murdoch returns to a house in Bristol, England, in order to find out why two men there have been pursuing him (and shot him in the arm). As he's looking over photos and maps on a wall, he hears someone coming, hides behind the door, and seizes a smoking pipe. When one of his pursuers enters the room, he jams the pipe stem into the back of the guy's neck and acts as if it's a real gun.
- White Collar: Neal threatens to shoot a man by jamming a birdhouse against his back.
- Omar in The Wire does this in season 5. But being Omar, you would expect him to have a real gun.
- In the 1991 TV movie Another Pair of Aces: Three of a Kind, a Con Man (played by Willie Nelson) sneaks up behind a bad guy and presses the mouth of a beer bottle against the back of his head. The bad guy, assuming it was the muzzle of a Hand Cannon, surrenders his gun without even looking.
- A French radio show had a baddie holding up twins using a real gun and a pipe, after pointing out he is ambidextrous.
- In the original Castle Wolfenstein, the player can surprise guards and hold them at gunpoint, even with an empty gun.
- Used in Suika, aka Wet Summer Days. Kamishiro Souji is attacked by some local toughs who tell him of their intention to have their way with his girlfriend, the daughter of a local artist (who is believed by some to have killed his wife). Cue the girl's father coming up from behind and pressing a bit of metal into one of their backs, telling them it's his pallet knife, and then describing how his knowledge of anatomy as an artist gives him the knowledge to be a most efficient killer.
- In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker there are whole missions where you must hold up all the guards in the level. Getting seen is an instant mission failure however, because you are armed with nothing but a banana.
- Antihero for Hire: Dechs uses his finger at one point; this is seen as a major development, since Dechs always uses his gun.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, a flashback shows Clare holding up a man by pointing her metal finger into his back and calling it a knife. When her baby wailed, it really ruined the effect.
- In Dead Winter, Lizzie pulls this on Clark the clerk at the Omni-mart.
- In Sarah's debut episode of lonelygirl15, "Crazy Emo Chick", she introduces herself to Daniel by putting lipstick to his back, announcing that it's a gun, and demanding that he puts his hands in the air, and that Bree and Jonas turn off the camera. It turns out she's just playing a practical joke.
- In Canada, any hint of a weapon in commission of a robbery makes it considered armed, even if it is just a finger in a pocket. This can come into play in other countries as well, sometimes to the point of giving the would-be victim full legal right to defend themselves with force.