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Stop, or I Will Shoot!

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Well, he warned him!

Lothar: Freeze, motherfucker, or I'll kill you where you stand!
Eastwood: ...He's running faster.
Lothar: Ah, but he respects me.

The phrase "Stop or I'll Shoot" embodies a common idea, popularized in fiction, that a police officer need only identify himself to a criminal suspect as an officer of the law, and that after this, if the suspect resists the officer, the officer is justified in containing the situation by any means he sees fit, up to and including deadly force.

This idea is flawed. In real life, police officers are required to use a reasonable amount of force, ideally the minimum necessary to contain a situation; they can't just begin shooting or swinging their nightsticks willy-nilly whenever a perp runs or tells them off, or even if a suspect fights back. Many, many lawsuits against police departments are grounded on the alleged use of "excessive force" and "Police Brutality". Indeed, in the United States, since 1985, police are not allowed to shoot a fleeing suspect unless he or she can be shown to pose a threat of death or dangerous injury to others.

However, in Hollywood, the instant a person defies a police officer, he automatically forfeits any protection against the Long Arm. As mentioned, this can include shooting him (typically, but not always, in the leg). This is the reason Suicide by Cop works so well in fiction (although, sadly, this has been used in real life as well).

Note that the police officer is justified in lethal force in some situations, as when a reasonably prudent person would conclude it was needed to save someone's life. So someone running away would not rise to this level, but someone driving away, and appearing to be ready to plow down someone in the street, would.

This is drifting toward Discredited Trope, as many current Police Procedurals depict cops using more realistic levels of force when needed; but it is by no means dead. Most often applied to Anti Heroes, whose willful use of excessive force is commonly met with disapproval from their peers or superiors, but it generally would not apply to military forces, a fascist state or other totalitarian regime, or to the Big Bad and his Mooks, as these would be expected to more freely employ deadly force. Also, given the modern-day threat of terrorist attacks and suicide bombers, various military forces may interpret 'continuing to move towards them without stopping when demanded to' as a potentially lethal threat all by itself, especially in high-security facilities or areas at war, such as Iraq. So when the Marine gate guard says "Halt or I will fire!", it is very likely that he means exactly what he just said.

This may also be a Justified Trope in historical or foreign settings, where the law (and public opinion) may have different views than present-day American citizens, legislators and media on what sort of force the police are justified in using to apprehend a criminal.

Occasionally used to demonstrate the badass level of whatever the cops are facing down when the villain does not stop and the cops do indeed shoot, only for it to have negligible effect.

This trope is a form of Artistic License Law Enforcement. Very often occurs together with mild variants of Artistic License Gun Safety (i.e. nobody gets hurt). See also Suicide by Cop, Put Down Your Gun and Step Away. If the target calls their bluff, see You Wouldn't Shoot Me.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Higurashi: When They Cry. After a scuffle with some child-nappers, Detective Oishi trains a gun on them as they're running away. He doesn't shoot them though, and when asked why he says something along the lines of "I can't shoot an unarmed man in the back while he runs away!" The suspects even go so far as to pull out their guns and drop them on the ground before running. Noting this Oishi remarks they were probably professionals.
  • Ouka does this in Kyouran Kazoku Nikki when someone reveals they were using Mind Control on him.

  • Robin Williams, during his performance at the Met, covered this trope with a few different types of cops:
    • L.A. cops: "Stop, or I'll shoot!"
    • West Hollywood cops: "Stop! Those shoes don't go with those pants!"
    • Cops in London: "The police don't have a gun, and you don't have a gun, so it's 'Stop!... or I'll say stop again!'"

    Comic Books 
  • Shade, the Changing Man:
    • In the first issue, the cops don't even finish the sentence when they see Roger (Kathy's black boyfriend who she brought to the Deep South to meet her parents) wrestling with Trent (white serial killer who had just knifed Kathy's parents to death) on the lawn; they shoot Roger. They were both covered in the same blood during the struggle, though Trent was more blood-splattered for good reason. Trent lampshades the injustice by mockingly complaining about the discrimination shown against himself.
    • In a later issue, two cops question Shade while he's carting the bodies of a pair of hookers out of Times Square in a steamer trunk. The bodies turn out to be mannequins, but the cops find severed human fingers among the parts. When Shade tries to flee, they open fire before they've finished yelling the trope.
  • This phrase is repeated verbatim along with countless other deliberately cliche phrases in an issue of Too Much Coffee Man where he battles a supervillain with the actual name of Cliche.
  • Asterix runs into the Ancient Rome version when a centurion recognizes him as a wanted man and threatens, "Stop or I will put my pilum through your sternum!"

    Fan Works 
  • In Patterns of the Past, the Patternista sees O'Sullivan rummaging through his Hammerspace spine for a gadget to attack with, and threatens that if any member of the rescue team shoots at her with a gadget, she'll shoot at Old Missie with her pistol.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, an officer has Bob and Lucius (Mr. Incredible and Frozone carrying out secret hero work) at gunpoint in a jewelry store, telling them to freeze. He tells Lucius to freeze, but Lucius says he's just getting some water from the water cooler. He uses this water to literally freeze the officer so that he and Bob can escape.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, they shoot at Bart for skateboarding naked, parodying how FCC\MPAA\etc. are much more lax towards violence than nudity\sex.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in the Sylvester Stallone action-comedy Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
  • The Bodyguard From Beijing: This is how John, the titular character, greets everyone. His new colleague, Charlie, had to blurt out they're on the same side while staring down John's gunbarrel, and this is before he gets into any shootouts.
  • In The Godfather Part II, Michael Corleone has rival Hyman Roth assassinated at the airport. The assassin shoots Roth point-blank and is in turn shot in the back by police as he runs away. In a crowded airport. In full view of a dozen reporters with cameras.
  • James Bond:
    • Bond himself is explicitly stated to have a "License to Kill". He's essentially a government assassin.
    • Subverted in Octopussy. When General Orlov chases the train over the inner-German border on foot, one of the GDR border guards orders him to stop via megaphone. When he doesn't comply, another guard with an AK-47 immediately shoots him (before being motioned to stop by Gogol). This policy was infamously Truth in Television, by the way; the border was called the 'death strip' for a reason.
  • Subverted in Reign Over Me; a police officer threatens to shoot Adam Sandler's character (who's brandishing an unloaded revolver in the middle of the street), but it's only to distract him while his partner sneaks up from behind.
  • Subverted in New Jack City when the hero cop chases a young criminal through an extended Chase Scene and the cop never draws his gun. However, when the crook suddenly draws a gun, that is when the cop draws his own and shoots him down.
  • Parodied in RoboCop (1987). During a demonstration of the ED-209 law enforcement mecha, a guy is asked to point a weapon at ED. He does, and ED orders him to drop his weapon and surrender, or it will count down from 10 and shoot the guy. The guy complies, drops his weapon, and surrenders. ED continues counting down to 0 and shoots the guy anyway.
  • The French Connection. 'Popeye' Doyle guns down the EL assassin as he turns to flee, despite the fact that a) he's now unarmed, and b) Popeye couldn't have been sure the man was the same guy who'd taken a shot at him earlier, as there was little opportunity to get a clear look at his face.
  • Fargo: Margie captures Gaer Grimsrud by shooting him in the leg while he's fleeing from her. He had just thrown a heavy block of wood at her head, so it could be argued she was at least justified in pulling her gun to respond to assault with a weapon. Grimsrud's lawyer'll still have his work cut out for him at trial, though.... Then again she caught him feeding a body to a woodchipper, so she could argue he was a threat to the general public.
  • The first Blade film takes this to particular extremes. A group of police officers shout "Freeze!" at Blade and then open fire on him before he has even moved, and a later group continues shooting at him with barely any warning (even bringing out an automatic rifle) while he is carrying a civilian. It's just about possible that these were police who were in the pocket of vampires, or that they recognized Blade as a wanted and dangerous criminal, but it is still a stretch.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man. Cops are very aggressive in this film and open fire on Spider-Man twice onscreen. The first time he was doing nothing but talking to the cop, and the cop almost accidentally killed the man Spider-Man had webbed up. Apparently, the police officer was assuming Spiderman's webslingers were deadly weapons, and therefore felt justified in brandishing a weapon.
  • Surprisingly averted in The Matrix. Just before the dramatic lobby shootout, the fifty or so SWAT officers position themselves behind columns with dramatic gun cocking. The head Mook then yells "Freeze!" in spite of the fact that Neo and Trinity had already gunned down three security guards and are advancing on them with their guns brandished.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. British spy Jim Prideaux realizes he's under surveillance and starts walking away. A Hungarian secret service agent races into the street, yelling for him to stop and firing a warning shot (which ends up in the head of an Innocent Bystander). The other secret police agents start shouting at him to calm down, as the alley is already blocked off by the secret police, but the man puts a second bullet into Jim's back, much to the KGB's fury as they wanted him alive.
  • Played for Laughs in Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet. Nick Carter, an American private eye investigating in Prague, but cooperating with a local police commissioner, uses this phrase twice when he's chasing a suspect. The suspect is at that point confirmed to be helping The Gardener, who is a mysterious criminal mastermind, responsible for the disappearance Nick is investigating and they know they plan a murder. While going after him, he accidentally meets his Love Interest who doesn't know he's a detective, and he tells her that he's playing a game of "Cops & Robbers" with a friend.
  • Subverted in Demolition Man when the police first approach Simon Phoenix. The first command is "Simon Phoenix, lay down, on the ground, with your hands behind your back." Simon responds with "Oh, I'm so scared!" The cop follows with "Lie down, on the ground... Or ELSE!" There was no "or else" to fall back on. The police in the ultra-peaceful San Angeles not only didn't have guns to shoot with, they didn't have proper training or even procedures to deal with violent criminals, nevermind complete psychopaths like Phoenix.
  • Bonnie and Clyde. The Outlaw Couple are gunned down without warning in a police ambush — this was Truth in Television. It should be noted that Barrow had shot his way out of several previous attempts to capture him, and his gang had killed nine lawman and several civilians during their crime spree. This becomes a Discussed Trope in The Highwaymen, basically a deconstruction of the above film that takes the point-of-view of the law enforcement officers who took part in the ambush.
  • Cloud Atlas: "Excessive force authorised."
  • Played for Laughs in 1941 (1979). Mad pilot Wild Bill Kelso lands his fighter plane at a roadside gas station and tells them to fill it up. As he's left the engine running, the fighter starts to take off without him, so he fires a warning shot in the air even though there's no-one piloting it. The shot severs a power line which ignites the spilled fuel and blows up the gas station.
  • Jim Malone in The Untouchables stops a fleeing Capone bookkeeper - younger and faster than he is - in his tracks by firing a burst from his Tommy gun in the air.
    Malone: Enough of this running shit.

  • A Russian joke subverts this trope. "Stop, I'll shoot!" "Stopping!" "Shooting!"

  • In Fool Moon, book two of The Dresden Files, Harry is shot at by FBI agents as he flees arrest. As they are shooting at him he explicitly thinks about how they are not supposed to be allowed to shoot him for fleeing. It turns out the agents are actually the villains of the book, and have been planning for several chapters to kill him and frame him for their own crimes.
  • Justified in Harrison Bergeron in that it is said in an oppressive dystopia, and the speaker has an insane amount of power.
  • In Andrei Belyanin's Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency series, the main character is a modern-day cop transported into a fairy-tale tsardom, where he is asked to become a detective of sorts, as his skillset is unknown to them. Many times throughout the series he attempts to instill in the locals modern law enforcement practices with mixed results. One of these is for his squad of streltsy (guards in old Russia) to fire a warning shot before shooting a suspect. The sotnik (equivalent of captain) of the streltsy complains that it takes forever to reload their primitive hand cannons, which will allow the suspect to get away. The cop settles for "Stop Or I Will Shoot" instead.
  • The 39 Clues Isabel Kabra. Only, it's more like, start obeying me again, son, or I'll shoot your sister. And she does, but in the foot and only as a warning.... And then she threatens to shoot practically everybody.
    • Plus, she's not a cop- just a mega-rich evil lady capable of probably bribing cops into not arresting her. Except for in Book 10.
  • Subverted in one of the Rogue Warrior novels. One of the characters is a former cop who yells for a man, later revealed to be a bodyguard, to surrender during a hostage rescue on a plane. Problem is, the rescue team are SEALS. They're not meant to shout "Freeze motherfucker or name your beneficiary," anyone waving a gun about during a firefight is fair game, and despite the officer's efforts, the innocent bodyguard was gunned down.
  • In Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, one of the cops interviewed for the book describes how, when he was younger, he was involved in a pursuit of a known criminal and pulled this trope, firing a warning shot into the air — and the criminal, who the cop knew previously, was genuinely shocked and shaken that the cop had fired 'at' him. The cop discussed how he was chastened enough to never pull this trick again.
  • Subverted in The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice not being able to do this is why she has to chase Buffalo Bill into his basement. When she pulls her gun on him he just flees the room and she can't shoot him.
  • Arm of the Law by Harry Harrison. When his car breaks down during a chase a policeman shouts "Stop them!" to his Robot Buddy, who is compelled to obey what it sees as an order and uses its recoilless head cannon to neatly Pop the Tires. The criminals are so rattled they surrender quietly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Counter-example: the docu-drama series COPS. If you watched about fifteen cops wrestle down a large, uncooperative, but unarmed suspect, and wondered why someone didn't just whip out a club and knock the guy out, the answer is that it's not allowed. In one of the earliest episodes, a rookie cop more or less says the trope title ("Stop or I'll shoot you in the back") and he has never heard the end of this.
  • Parodied in an episode of Bones. "Stop, or I'll... kick you in the testicles!"

  • Parodied in Community; when deputized as a temporary campus security officer, Annie tries this on a fleeing suspect. She quickly learns the hard way that when all of you have is a pepper spray, this threat is a lot less effective... and that if you try 'shooting' the suspect, all you end up doing is running straight into a cloud of pepper spray.
  • Averted in Copper because the show is set in 1864 New York and the police of the time do not bother with niceties like identifying themselves before they open fire. When the protagonists ambush a group of bank robbers they open fire first and then offer the lone survivor a chance to surrender.
  • In Due South the character of Ray Kowalski is this and so much more. In spades. His standard reaction to seeing a holstered weapon on anyone whom he doesn't know to be a police officer is to scream "GUN!" and knock the person down with his own weapon ready to shoot. Even when the person is a woman. Who has a concealed carry permit. And is a licensed bounty hunter. It's worth noting that when a bunch of trainees assist in arresting a multitude of suspects while their instructor takes the opportunity to grill them on their knowledge of procedure, Kowalski has absolutely no clue regarding said procedure.
    Instructor: And what do we do after the suspect is in custody?
    Kowalski: ...Kick them in the head?
  • Colby Granger does this in one episode of NUMB3RS, telling a fleeing suspect to "stop or I'll shoot you in the back". After he surrenders, Colby admits he had no intention of actually shooting: "I just did not feel like chasing you." Notably, he never does it again, suggesting he may have realized, or been told, that this was not acceptable (this was very early in his time with the FBI).
  • Subverted in The Expanse during the defection of Bobbie Draper, who flees the Martian Embassy on Earth to seek asylum with the UN. One of the Martian soldiers giving chase shouts this trope, but is immediately countermanded: they're not authorized to do so, as opening fire in the direction of UN personnel would cause a horrific diplomatic incident.

  • The two Space Police officers in The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy 1978 (named in the credits as Shooty and Bangbang) subject the unarmed Heart of Gold crew to a continuous barrage of firepower, only pausing occasionally to tell them how bad they feel about it. (This was a parody of Adams's impression of seventies US cop shows, where the main characters were sensitive, understanding guys, but seemed to shoot people just as much as in previous cop shows.)

  • Subverted in Survival of the Fittest season one, when David Jackson tries this on a crazed and paranoid Andrew Klock who is steadily advancing on his group. Andrew ignores his warnings, even when David pulls out his gun and points it at his head, and eventually breaks into a full on charge. This causes David to panic and pull the trigger, shooting Andrew right between the eyes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted in The World of Darkness games where several Sourcebooks give guidelines on standard police procedure when facing suspects. Given that its the World Of Darkness, a player can assume that if a cop fulfills this trope then there's a good chance he's corrupt or being manipulated.
  • The opening "Are you a Munchkin?" quiz in The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming:
    An enemy is fleeing. What do you shout?
    a. "Stop!"
    b. "Stop or I shoot!"

  • The Sound of Music has one of these with the one daughter's boyfriend who joined Those Wacky Nazis... he tells the family to stop, and the Captain replies he hasn't got the guts to do it. The result is a standoff with the Captain trying to get him to turn over the gun, and the boy eventually yelling "they're here!"

    Video Games 
  • Pretty much any video game where enemies include police or security guards; these will invariably shoot first and ask questions never.
    • Notable Exception: SWAT 4 has you playing the role of, well, a SWAT team (special police). Players have access to a large amount of nonlethal weapons and you get a lot of points knocked off for 'Unauthorized Use of Force' - shooting without shouting for compliance (ie. "Hands up!") unless they've already pointed a gun at an officer or a hostage - which is an open invitation to shoot first for the sake of you, your squad, or the hostage. The game is at its most fun when you mercilessly attack with tasers, paintball guns, and beanbag shotguns. Especially as less-lethal force isn't penalized.
      • The negligently unaggressive police A.I. sometimes makes you wish your SWAT teammates would shoot on sight, though, since you often get low points on a mission because one of your teammates told a suspect to surrender, and the suspect responded with a shotgun blast to the officer's face, costing you both an officer and 20% of the mission score. Your SWAT teammates won't fire unless fired upon even if you equip them with less-lethal stun weapons (i.e. tasers or pepper spray).
      • This is only the case in SWAT 4. In SWAT 3, your officers are much more likely to shoot a suspect if he's so much as holding a gun, let alone pointing it at them or shooting it. That said, they will immediately stop shooting at the suspect if he drops his gun and surrenders, assuming they missed.
    • An interesting aversion to this occurs in the more recent Grand Theft Auto games. When the player character gets a single wanted star, police officers will approach and attempt to subdue and arrest the player nonlethally, unless the character has drawn a firearm. At that point, they open fire. Progressing to a second star, which generally involves inflicting significant property damage or killing civilians/police, will result in the police simply opening fire and continuing to shoot until you're dead.
  • Averted in Sierra's Police Quest game series. Produced by real-life police officers, the games require you to follow proper police procedure (don't worry, it's All There in the Manual). Failure to do so will give you an abrupt game over.
    • Not always an immediate game over, though. In some cases, seemingly minor infractions will go unpunished, only to show up later. Example: in the first game, taking a criminal to jail requires you to lock up your gun in a gun locker outside, for safety. Failure to do so will still allow you to get access to the jail, but as soon as you uncuff the suspect to escort him to his cell, he'll take your gun and kill you.
  • Mostly averted in Postal 2 — the cops will shout this if you commit a crime and run away, but won't actually shoot unless you pull out a weapon.
    • However, if a civilian NPC is caught committing a crime, the cops will chase them down and beat them to death, even if they drop their weapon and try to run away.
      • This is because there is no arrest mechanic for NPCs (the player arrest mechanic being a simple fade-to-black then restart at the police station). Same thing applies to the later Grand Theft Auto games, the ones where the cops actually care about criminals other than the player.
  • In the Junkyard of Full Throttle this is used by the local cops, although it quickly turns out to be Blatant Lies- but thanks to A-Team Firing, the hero gets away.
  • Played straight for Grand Theft Auto. Alright, the way most people play, the cops would be perfectly justified in shooting at your character. Sometimes though, it's less justified, especially when you're committing non-violent crimes, they'll still shoot.
    • In the third and fourth installation, the cops actually won't fire a single bullet at you at one star. Anything above that though, and they open fire. Less justified than it sounds though in the fourth: if they catch up to you and you keep running instead of letting them arrest you, you'll get another star and they'll shoot you in the back. Which is actually merciful in that one. You lose all your weapons if arrested, but this is the first one that lets you keep your arsenal after visiting the hospital.
  • Averted in Mafia: City of Lost Heaven. The cops will ticket you for minor infractions (running a red light), and attempt to arrest you for major infractions (running over a civilian). Running away from the cops will raise a fine-level infraction to an arrest-level infraction, but they still won't use violence against you. It's only when you physically threaten them (i.e. slam your car into theirs, or fire a weapon) that they actually start shooting (as well as trying to run you over).
  • The Imperial Stormtroopers in the Dark Forces Saga have a tendency to loudly yell out "Stop or I'll shoot!" or "You're under arrest!" while simultaneously opening fire on you with their blasters.
  • In Fallout 3, the Vault Overseer orders you to surrender or be killed. If you do surrender, he takes your gun and shoots you in the face with it. Nice guy.
  • From Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night:
    Marisa: Move and I'll shoot! ...I messed up. I mean, shoot and I'll move. In a flash.
  • The "Blues" in Mirror's Edge mostly just shout something like "There she is!" and open fire, but at some points in the game they follow this trope to the letter. However, looking closely enough on their uniforms reveals the supposedly normal cops as Pirandelo-Kruger mercenaries in a uniform resembling a police suit. They're already under orders to kill Faith, and by the second level it's likely Faith is wanted for multiple accounts of murder.
  • A rare, non-firearm related example can be found in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Upon the acquisition of a bounty, guards will confront the player, and give him a choice of paying the fine, going to jail and losing skill points, or "resist arrest"—basically not cooperating. If the player chooses to resist arrest, regardless of whether he's armed or not, fighting back or running away, the guards will attempt to either snipe at him with arrows or run him through with a sword. The player can still surrender at any time and receive the same three options again. The guards don't seem to have the slightest of interests in incapacitating and incarcerating the player, and seem perfectly happy to merely bleed the player to death instead. This would also explain why various prisons around Cyrodil are so empty....
    • This is more justified than other examples though, given the Middle Age-esque setting of the game series.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death had a system where you were encouraged to try and take criminals in alive by ordering them to stop and then disarming/wounding them. You're not particularly punished for killing someone engaged in a firefight with you, unless you kill someone who has surrendered or use your Lawgiver's incendiary rounds on perps.
  • Averted and called out in L.A. Noire by Cole Phelps. If you're chasing down a suspect with your gun drawn, you can aim at the running suspect to fire a warning shot into the air, and Cole will tell the suspect to stop or he will shoot them. However, if you actually shoot them you fail the case and have to start from the last checkpoint.
  • Averted in Bully where despite the cops clearly having a visible firearm, when Jimmy or any other student commits any treasonable act, they instead try to approach the suspect and bust them with physical force instead of simply firing on them.
  • In Resident Evil 2 (Remake), rookie cop Leon tries this on the first zombie he encounters. Naturally, it doesn't work, and the player will likely have to shoot their way out.
  • In Episode 3 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, if Javier moves to let David into the warehouse, Clem fires a warning shot and snaps at him not to let his brother David in, who she thinks killed AJ.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert when he has the protagonist at gunpoint in the back alley, Mortelli warns him not to try anything funny. The other part goes unsaid, but the implication is clear.


    Western Animation 
  • Mickey Mouse, of all characters, pulls this on Donald Duck in the short Symphony Hour, stopping him at gunpoint from bailing out on a concert performance gone awry.
  • Also subverted in the animated Dilbert cartoon:
    Cops: Stop and we'll shoot!
    Dilbert: Stop and we'll shoot? If you're going to shoot, why should we stop?
    Cop: The targets at the firing range don't move.
    Cop: Hold your fire, he's running....
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, they shoot at Bart with shotguns for not going to Ralph's birthday party.
  • In The Boondocks, Uncle Ruckus is told by police officers to get out of his truck and show them I.D. even though he was doing nothing and in fact was the one that called them. Even though Ruckus fully cooperated, and told the officers what he was doing, when he pulled out his wallet, a cop shouted "GUN!!!" and they opened fire. They missed. Then he tried to pull out a spare safety orange wallet. Cue another "GUN!!!" and Ruckus being brutally beaten by nightsticks.
  • Used in Justice League where Metamorpho has just accidentally caused a truck to crash. The cops tell him to freeze, and when he puts his hands up, they shoot a rocket launcher at him.

    Real Life 
  • Firearms instructor Massad Ayoob relates how he was told by officers in one police department that they had the statutory authority to shoot a fleeing suspect. As there'd been an outcry in a neighboring department over just such an incident, Ayoob decided to speak to their District Attorney, who replied: "Yes, they have the legal authority to shoot, but that doesn't mean they won't get in a shitload of trouble if they do."
  • Any statute in the US that allows police to do this in any circumstance is automatically unconstitutional. See Tennessee v. Garner Such deadly force is only valid if "the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm... if, where feasible, some warning has been given."
  • That said, don't think the rules apply the same way towards Military Police. While they have many of the same restrictions on use of force when not on the battlefield, there is a short list of things that will get you shot quickly, such as threatening a human life (the soldier or a bystander), or threatening highly important strategic assets, such as nuclear weapons, The President, or certain facilities. Mind you, they tend not to keep those strategic assets just lying around, so you will really have to try if you are going to approach them.
  • There was an incident in Arizona where two teenage car thieves, trying to evade the cops, took a wrong turn and went barreling through the security gate at an Air Force base. The guards, having no way of knowing what the intentions were of the occupants of the speeding car evidently trying to force its way into a secured military installation, opened fire on the car and killed one of the occupants.
  • This is standard operating procedure in Singaporean army camps, where two stops "Stop!" separated by a pause, then "Stop or I will shoot!" are being shouted to someone with hostile intent charging the camp guard. It should be noted that even when the last warning goes unheeded, standard ROE still dictates that a warning shot be fired first, followed by going for the limbs first. Proper escalation of force is still in effect.
    • Like many procedures of the Singaporean military, this originated in the Israel Defense Force. The original Israeli version has a "Stop and identify yourself!" warning in-between, and the "Stop or I will shoot!" warning is made twice; the first time in Hebrew, and the second time in Arabic.
  • Generations of British servicemen and women who did at least one tour of duty in Northern Ireland will know the above as "the Yellow Card Warning", to allow you to demonstrate in court afterwards that you gave the perp every opportunity to lower their weapon and surrender before you opened fire.
  • This sort of behavior was the basis of the scandal involving Seattle police officer Ian Birk, who shot and killed a Native American woodcarver named John T. Williams he believed was brandishing a knife. However, the dashcam from his police car, while not showing the actual shooting, did demonstrate that there were mere seconds between Birk seeing Williams walking along the street and Williams being shot dead, making it unlikely Williams could even have had the opportunity to do anything threatening. The case was resolved by an internal review declaring the shooting unjustified, and Birk resigned from the force, however, no charges were brought against him.
  • Played straight, but also subverted, at the Berlin Wall. Played horribly straight, as East German border guards were ordered to use lethal force to stop people from crossing the border illegally. More than 100 people, including pre-teen children, were killed while trying to escape East Germany. Later subverted in that many of the perpetrators were tried and sentenced by the reunified Germany for ordering or carrying out the shootings.
  • The same thing is still happening in North Korea. Anyone attempting to cross the border to escape North Korea, whether they're headed for South Korea or even China, would be shot right away.
  • In France, unlike the National Police, which is civilian and under the general self-defense rules of the Penal Code, the Gendarmerie is military and thus under the Defense Code, and allowed to shoot fleeing suspects if they didn't stop at the cries of "Halte gendarmerie" and no other means exist.


Video Example(s):


Invention Highway

A crook finds himself surrounded by guns when his usual attempt at escaping prison is thwarted by the player.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / StopOrIWillShoot

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