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Two Shots from Behind the Bar

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Well, he said "last call for shots". He wasn't kidding.

So the hero wanders into a seedy bar. Maybe he brushes against a less-than-reputable goon. Maybe the goon is just looking to pick a fight. Maybe the hero can't afford to pay the tab. Whatever the case, this scenario can only end in bloodshed.

The bartender quickly dives behind the bar. A cowardly move... but then he emerges, shotgun in tow and ready to quell any disturbances to his business.

This action is not necessarily limited to bartenders, although it is a common occurrence. Similarly, while the shotgun is a common firearm used, other firearms such as rifles or pistols may be used. The key point is that the firearm is retrieved specifically from the bar.



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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Attack on Titan, while fighting Kenny the Ripper, Levi crashes into a bar and hides behind the counter. While there, he finds a shotgun and uses it against Kenny before thanking the bartender for saving his life.
  • In Black Lagoon, Bao, the owner of the Yellow Flag, keeps a shotgun behind the bar handy for inevitable shootouts. It doesn't hurt that the bar itself is fully armored to withstand gunfire. Unfortunately, the Yellow Flag also routinely gets bombed.
  • One episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex starts with Section 9 raiding a bar where some yakuza are discussing illegal business. A quick raid busts the gang, but as the Major calls out, "Don't try anything stupid!", the guy hiding behind the bar reaches for the stowed shotgun. Just as he stands with it, two shots from Togusa hit his hand and make him drop it, and Batou kindly repeats the Major's warning; both of them had come in through the back door and had seen him, spoiling the potential ambush.


  • In most Western films where there's a gunfight in a saloon, the bartender will produce a gun from behind the bar and join in. The trope probably originated in that genre.
  • The Winchester in Shaun of the Dead has the gun hidden in plain sight, but Shaun and the others initially think it's just a prop.
  • The shotgun-wielding bartender is among the victims of the bar Blast Out in Inglourious Basterds.
  • After the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day beats up several bikers in a bar, the bartender confronts him outside with a shotgun to prevent him from stealing one of their motorbikes. The T-800 proves his Bad to the Bone credentials by snatching the loaded shotgun off him, as well as a pair of Cool Shades.
  • In Dirty Harry it was a liquor store and this was how the villain, an ex-con, was able to get a gun to battle with Dirty Harry.
  • The opening shootout from Desperado ends with the bartender pulling a shotgun to try to take out the Mariachi as he was walking away. As for how it turned out...
    Buscemi: ...No, man. The bartender got it worse than anybody.
  • The opening shootout from The Killer featured a bartender with a shotgun. Needless to say, it didn't end well for him.
  • Pulp Fiction: When Butch and Marcellus bust into Maynard's pawn shop he stops Butch by pulling out a shotgun.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X-Men, when Logan threatened a customer with his claws, the bartender quickly aimed a shotgun point blank at his head. Logan promptly sliced the shotgun in half, demonstrating why you should never bring a gun to a clawfight.
    • This trope came up again in X-Men: First Class, when Erik hunts down former Nazis at a bar in Argentina. As he controls metal, it failed even worse than the above example.
  • Averted in The Last Detail: The bartender threatens this, but Jack Nicholson's character points out he knows there's only a baseball bat back there, because he once saw the bartender use it.
  • A variant happens in The Dark Knight Rises when Selina Kyle is attacked by henchmen in a bar. One of the henchmen is stationed behind the counter, and tries to draw a weapon when the attack begins, only for Selina to shoot him before he can fire it.
  • Featured in the vampire western Near Dark; unfortunately for the bartender, the vampires are Immune to Bullets.
  • When the townsfolk finally join the fight against the vampires in Blood Rayne II Deliverance, the saloon girl Martha grabs the bar's double-barrelled shotgun.
  • This is who finally kills The Shootist. A dying gunslinger invites three people with a grudge against him to a saloon, wanting to die quickly in battle rather than slowly from cancer. But he's so good he out-shoots his opponents, only to get shot In the Back by the bartender. Who then gets shot by the Young Gun who's just arrived on the scene.
  • Johnny Reno: Charlie the bartender keeps a double-barrelled shotgun under the bar in Nona's saloon. He pulls it out when the fight between Yates and Reno is about to kick off, but Tomkins waves for him to put it away. Later it is the weapon he uses when he is one of the men laying siege to sheriff's office.
  • Petticoat Planet: When a rowdy customer fires a shot into the ceiling, Lilly the bartender whips a double-barrelled shotgun out from under the bar as quickly as The Sheriff draws her six-gun from her holster.
  • Savaged: When Zoe attacks Jed in the bar, the bartender grabs a shotgun from behind the bar and starts desperately fumbling to load it. It does him no good.


  • The Dresden Files: Artemis Bock, the bookstore owner, keeps a sawn-off 10-gauge wired underneath the counter. MacAnally the bartender has one as well as two M1911s, but they're only placed to be easily accessible when there's trouble brewing.
  • Middlesex:
    When a group of men came (into Lefty's bar), boasting of having beaten a Negro to death, my grandfather refused to serve them. "Why don't you go back to your own country?" one of them shouted. "This is my country," Lefty said, and to prove it, he did a very American thing: he reached under the counter and produced a pistol.
  • The StarCraft novelization Liberty's Crusade had the protagonist kill a Zergling with a shotgun he found behind the bar in a ghost town.
  • Robert Rankin's The Brentford Trilogy: Neville, full-time part-time barman at The Flying Swan, keeps a knobkerrie for convincing punters of dubious manageability to leave. This being set in England, guns are far more rare than in the United States.
  • A Running Gag in Discworld is the presence of a club of some description, possibly with a nail in it, behind the bar of any pub. The landlord of the Goblin's Head in Snuff is a former copper, and kept his truncheon.
  • In The Continental Op short story "Corkscrew", the diner owner keeps a sawn-off shotgun in plain sight in a barrel behind the counter. The Op borrows it at one point to quell a potential riot. The Op later realises that as he keeps this gun in plain sight, he probably has a second weapon concealed below the counter.


     Live Action TV  

  • Happens several times in Supernatural.
  • In an episode of The Mentalist, Rigsby's father (an ex-con) is "helping" on a case, and goes into a Bad-Guy Bar. Moments later several people run out. Rigsby enters and finds his father with a shiv pointed at some guy's throat and the bartender with a shotgun pointed at Rigsby Sr.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Night Terrors", when a barfight erupted in Ten Forward, Guinan pulled a phaser rifle from behind the bar and fired a shot into the ceiling.
    Guinan: That was setting one. Anyone want to see setting two?
  • Visually homaged in The Walking Dead when Tony draws down on Rick from behind a bar.
  • Although she doesn't fire the gun, Lindsey the bartender brandishes a shotgun while standing behind the bar when Raylan and Quarles face off in the "A Guy Walks into a Bar" episode of Justified.
  • Daredevil (2015): During the opening of "Penny and Dime," some of Finn Cooley's men enter a bar looking for information on the Punisher. The bartender tries to draw a gun but Finn's men shoot him, then threaten the owner with a shotgun to the neck. Later in the episode, Sgt. Brett Mahoney is seen processing this scene when Matt drops by as Daredevil to find out if the Punisher is responsible.
  • The Westerner: In "Jeff", the Indian barman garbs a shotgun from under the bar and tries to murder Dave. He misses with the first barrel, and Dave ensures he never gets to fire the second.

     Video Games  

  • In Bioshock Infinite, after the player blunders into his bar, the bartender screams "WE'RE CLOSED!" and proceeds to shoot the crap out of you.
  • The bartender in Deus Ex has a sawed-off shotgun behind the counter. However, she also carries her own.
  • In Dirge of Cerberus, Vincent can retrieve the Hydra rifle in Edge from behind a bar inside a deserted building.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a medieval variant in the Stumbling Sabrecat, a tavern right next to Fort Dunstad in the Pale. You can find a two-handed warhammer on a shelf behind the bar, though unfortunately it didn't help the bartender survive when bandits overran the fort.
  • After Bond crashes the Kiss Kiss Club in Everything or Nothing, he automatically takes cover behind the bar and acquires a shotgun.
  • Fallout 3 has a sawed-off shotgun and its shells stored at the Statesman Hotel's restaurant, under the counter. The reference to the trope is ambiguous, as there's also an ammunition box and frag grenades behind the counter as well.
  • After Jenny in Gun is taken hostage at the Alhambra Saloon, the bartender unlocks a cabinet behind the bar and pulls out what appears to be a rifle. However, after the cutscene ends he actually uses a pistol instead.
  • In the "Massacre at Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant" and "The Lee Hong assassination" levels of Hitman: Codename 47, if 47 pulls a weapon on the bartender, he will duck behind the bar and unload a sawed-off shotgun on him.
  • The seedy bar in the beginning of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II comes complete with a Stormtrooper rifle hidden under the counter.
  • During Mafia's mid-mission stages, Luigi the bartender packs a sawed-off shotgun behind the bar and will not hesitate to gun Tommy down if he attacks any of his allies.
  • Bartenders in Mafia II will pull a shotgun on Vito if he tries to rob them.
  • In Max Payne, there is a shotgun tucked behind the (unmanned) reception desk in one of Vinnie's apartments, near the laundromat.
  • Perfect Dark implies something similar - the front desk to the dataDyne building in the first few levels has a pair of submachine guns hidden behind it.
  • The player can do this in Poke646: Vendetta. In Nation City, there is a empty bar the player has to pass through. Picking up the shotgun makes Aliens telepot in, as convenient target practise.
  • Resident Evil 2 has one of the most convenient and straightforward versions of the trope: the owner of Kendo Gun Store, whom you run into early in the game, is unloading on the zombies from behind his counter.
  • The bartender in Space Station 13 has a shotgun in the back room. It usually doesn't see much use, but it's one of the few ranged weapons you can get on the station that doesn't come from security or antagonists.
  • In Syphon Filter 2, it's probably not a coincidence that the club mission in Moscow has the bartender shooting with a shotgun.

     Western Animation  

  • The Simpsons: Bartender Moe Szyslak keeps a sawed-off shotgun handy in case of cheapskate customers or when he loses his temper, which happens all the time. Or when he just wants to rob people.


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