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You Wouldn't Shoot Me

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"Popovich's first rule of firearms is pretty simple: The man who tells you he's going to shoot you will not shoot you.", "The Lear Jet Repo Man"

Alice has Bob at gunpoint... and he calls her bluff. Sometimes bravado will make him mock her into the bargain, or even do something dramatic, like step forward and place the muzzle of the gun against his forehead, daring her to pull the trigger.

There are two possible outcomes: Bob's right and the gun wielder is humiliated as he smugly takes the gun right out of her hand — perhaps secure in the knowledge that the safety is on, the gun isn't loaded, or the gun is a harmless prop.

Alternatively, Bob's wrong:

A snappy One-Liner from the gunman is almost mandatory at this point — this counts as Talk to the Fist for the first few versions and Bond One-Liner for the last.

Related to Defensive Failure, subtrope of Underestimating Badassery. Will often result in someone being Killed Mid-Sentence. Compare Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand, where Bob is a hero and Alice is an enemy whose nobler side he is trying to reach. Also compare Can't Kill You, Still Need You, where Alice absolutely can kill Bob and would if given the chance, but she needs something from Bob that requires he be alive. Contrast Gunpoint Banter, which is much more lighthearted. Not related to Like You Would Really Do It, which is an Audience Reaction Trope.

It's worth noting that in real life, this is a very good way to get yourself killed.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Eren Yeager coldly stares down at Pieck, who is aiming her gun at his head and completely ignores Gabi aiming a rifle at him. He proceeds to verbally beat her down by actively walking closer and leaning his forehead against the mouth of her gun and says that there is no way she will shoot him. She doesn't have the balls to do it, since he has the Founding Titan's (still untapped to its full potential) power in his hands, and that she and her family back home would be murdered for killing him. Pieck lowers her gun and tells Gabi to do the same, realizing that Eren is absolutely right. That later changes when it becomes clear Eren is going to unlock the full use of the Founding Titan's power for himself (and unknown to almost everyone, is going to cause The Rumbling), where Gabi does indeed blow Eren's head off in a desperate attempt to stop him. Unfortunately, events conspire so that not even that is not enough.
  • Lelouch does this to Kallen in the two-part opening of Code Geass R2. She holds him at gunpoint, demanding to know if he used his Geass to gain her loyalty, but he just calmly walks up and takes the gun from her while explaining that her loyalty is her own. Considering she was his most loyal supporter in R1 he had good reason to believe she wouldn't do it.
  • From Death Note:
    "You won't shoot-"
    (cue hail of bullets)
  • Dragon Ball Z: When Vegeta decides to help Cell become Perfect to get a better fight, Trunks intervenes, making it clear he intends to stop Cell even if it means killing Vegeta himself. Vegeta simply scoffs, convinced Trunks wouldn't have the guts to attack his own father, only to be caught flat-footed when Trunks, without hesitation, blasts him out of the sky (albeit still not killing him).
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Leonard Testarossa, who's kidnapped Kaname, offers her a gun and says that she could easily kill him and escape to freedom, but he knows that's not the kind of person she is. He's right, but one of his soldiers tries to wrestle the gun out of Kaname's hands, causing it to go off and shoot Leonard. It leaves him with a nasty scar across his forehead and pretty much shatters his opinion of Kaname, causing him to switch from polite to abusive (both mentally and physically).
    • Very early on, Sousuke is unable to convince Kaname to head to safety without him and Kurz and, in desparation, orders her to do so at gunpoint, arguing that getting captured will be a Fate Worse than Death. Kaname instead just laughs and calls his bluff by hugging him, causing Sousuke to drop his gun in shock and fall head over heels before he even knows what the word "love" means.
  • In one chapter of Forbidden Scrollery, a human-turned-youkai tries to pull this on Reimu, as he's aware she's friends with multiple youkai and assumes she doesn't want to kill. She promptly cleaves him in two.
  • At the end of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, defeated villain Gouda attempts to leave the country and is not impressed by the police squad that tries to arrest him, because he is under the protection of American diplomats, and Aramaki wouldn't dare to touch them. The thing is, Aramaki has a direct order from the Prime Minister to keep Gouda from getting away under any circumstances. The Major is more than happy to make sure of it when he refuses to be taken into custody.
  • In The Love and Creed of Sae Maki, Misao pulls Kokai's gun on Sae, threatening to shoot her. Sae marches straight up to Misao, telling her that she'd never do it, pushes the gun aside and tells Misao that her "objection" is "overruled".
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection, Iris taunts Kyrie when the latter has her at gunpoint, calling her a coward and threatening to unleash hell on the girl's family should she take the shot. Kyrie is unable to fire and breaks down in tears. Amitie, on the other hand, has no such reservations.
  • Monster: Roberto says this to Tenma, who has a gun pointed towards him:
    Roberto: You can't do it. You're a doctor, you can only give life. It's my job to take life. You can't do it.
    • He was wrong.
  • One Piece: In Law's flashback, Doflamingo knew for a fact that his brother Rosinante inherited their father's kindness, and would never be able to shoot Doflamingo no matter what, sentiments that were not shared the other way.
  • During the climactic battle of Persona 4: The Animation, Yu claims that the culprit doesn't have the balls to personally kill someone while being held at gunpoint. It shakes the culprit's resolve long enough for Yu to get the upper hand.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Batman story, Catwoman is pointing a gun at Black Mask, and he confidently says she won't shoot him since she's just a thief with altruistic leanings, not a cold-blooded murderer. Turns out that horrifically torturing her loved ones was a really bad idea.
    • During the Knightquest storyline, Commissioner Gordon confronts AzBats after finding out that he let Abbatoir die, letting his hostage suffer a long and gruesome fate. Realizing that this Batman isn't the one he knows of, AzBats manhandles Gordon when he's called out on his actions before Gordon pulls his pistol at him. AzBats tells him that he knows that he's not the only one who doesn't murder, letting Gordon hesitate enough to allow him to swing off.
  • In the Blacksad album "Somewhere within the Shadows", Statoc says this to Blacksad, smugly telling him that he can tell that he is too decent of a person to simply kill another person in cold blood. He is quickly proven wrong. As Blacksad observers Satoc's cooling corpse, he also notes that without the jolt of contempt he felt from Statoc's upfront smug taunting, he probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger.
  • In Rat-Man, Janus Valker divides superheroes into two categories: the ones who think they can catch his bullets, and the ones who think he won't shoot.
    • Magnificently executed when he tried it on Rat-Man, who had earlier grabbed him by his clothes and told him he was finished. Valker asked him which of those two kinds of superhero Rat-Man was, Rat-Man replied "I'm the kind you can't shoot", Valker reached for his gun... And that's when Valker found out that Rat-Man stole his gun.
    • Later one of the Endings says this to Rat-Man, because he knows Rat-Man is a superhero and superheroes don't shoot anyone. Turns out, Rat-Man isn't exactly considering himself a superhero anymore and pulls the trigger.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader. Darth Vader kills the previous rulers of Shu-Torun and installs the youngest daughter as a Puppet Queen for the Empire. When she calls on her troops to attack without Imperial support, her chancellor overrules her, and when she points a gun at him he contemptuously says that she'll never shoot and should remember her place. Trios agrees...because she's a Queen now and has guards to execute him instead, which they promptly do on her order.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Near the end of the battle against the Dark Forest, Blossomfall fights Millie and threatens to kill Briarlight. Briarlight, suspecting she doesn't really have it in her to do it, asks Blossomfall if she truly hates her that much. Blossomfall says she does, but ultimately can't bring herself to actually kill her sister.
  • In Danganronpa Yakuza Arc, after having escaped captivity, Hajime Hinata has a scalpel at Funaki's throat and says he's going to help him escape. Funaki then points out that he'd only be killed if he does help them. Then he taunts Hajime with what it's like to kill someone. He then taunts Hajime that he doesn't have the balls to kill him. Hajime slices Funaki's throat.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Tenshinhan has turned this into an unspoken game with Vegeta. He goads the prince, knowing full well that he could be killed for it. But if Vegeta gives in, Tien wins. Knowing that, Vegeta's pride refuses to allow himself to lose. Of course, this means Vegeta still loses because Tenshinhan gets to make fun of him with impunity.
  • In Bird in a Storm, Cyrus Vanch breaks into Laurel's apartment to abduct her. She draws a gun on him and tells him to leave or she will shoot. He taunts her and moves to use his taser on her, confident that she won't shoot (or at least that he's faster). She shoots him.
  • Future Tense: Quattro says this to the heroes during the final battle. Unfortunately for her, Teana isn't a hero and is more than willing to shoot her.
  • In the 20th chapter of Old West, Sheriff Rango holds Ramirez Arvenga at gunpoint with the "killer-in-his-eyes". The Mexican coyote laughs and questions if the sheriff can actually kill him and live with it. Rango does see Ramirez's point but doesn't back away.
    Ramirez: Poor lizard. You are loco, aren't you? You know how to kill a man, si? But could you really stomach it? Go on. Find out. It's one thing to pull the trigger. It's another to watch your kill die.
    • In the climax, Rango holds Ramirez at gunpoint again and the coyote starts using this trope again. This time Rango blows Arvenga's head to smithereens, angry that the coyote destroyed the home of the chameleon's love interest Beans.
    Rango: I got enough reason to shoot you after what you did to Beans. Remember: it only takes one bullet...
    Ramirez Arvenga: You won't do it! You don't have the stomach for— [gets the head blown up]
    Rango: Try me.
  • Republic City Blues: When Korra has a gun to Asami's head during the first time that they meet, Asami calls her out on the bluff and rightly states that Korra wouldn't dare to shoot her; Asami has her surrounded with armed guards.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 8mm: Private Detective Tom Welles tracks down several men who murdered a young woman for a snuff film. He subdues one at gunpoint, but the man insists that Welles lacks the nerve to take a life, and points out Welles can hardly murder him with his own legally registered fiream. Welles is genuinely torn, but then calls the murdered girl's mother and builds up his rage enough to beat the man to death with his pistol.
  • In American Gangster, Tango taunts Frank Lucas that the latter wouldn't shoot him because they're standing on a crowded street in broad daylight. Lucas proves him wrong, and then returns to his lunch while everyone else stares in shock.
  • In the British sci-fi drama Beyond, protagonist Cole does the you-don't-have-the-balls-to-shoot-me routine to an armed robber in a convenience store. He doesn't get shot but is later accused of having wanted the gunman to shoot, because he had nothing to live for.
  • Flashbacks to Noah McManus/Il Duce's youth in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day show that two of the mafia goons who helped bludgeon his father to death were quite appropriately nervous to see him show up for revenge with a knife and pistol in his hands and cold-blooded murder in his eyes, but the one to actually kill his Pop was very blasé about it and arrogantly insisted that the kid didn't have the balls to shoot them. Guess who dies choking on his own blood a few seconds later?
  • Bound (1996): At the end, Violet has a gun on Caesar:
    Caesar: You don't want to shoot me, Vi... Do you? Do you? I know you don't.
    Violet: Caesar, you don't know shit. [shoots him]
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sitwell is unconvinced that Cap is willing to pitch him off the building and stays defiant. Cap agrees, then adds that Natasha has no sculps doing so. She does pitch him off the building, then he is rescued by Falcon and returned to the rooftop.
  • Casablanca has two variations (incidentally, both with the same gun): Ilsa visits Rick to try to get him to give her the letters of transit when he refuses, she picks up his gun and threatens to shoot him. Rick's response: "If Laszlo and the cause mean so much to you, you won't stop at anything." Ilsa hesitates. He steps right in front of the gun, saying "All right, I'll make it easier for you. Go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor." She doesn't shoot. Variation because Rick is saying (paraphrased), "If you're the Ilsa I knew you won't shoot me, but if you will, then I have no desire to live." The second case is at the airport, Rick threatening Major Strasser. Strasser doesn't say anything, but continues his (phone) call and seems to be calling Rick's bluff. He gets shot.
    • It's awkward to observe from the angle, but Strasser also attempts to shoot Rick.
  • In Cloud Atlas, Vyvyan Ayrs tries this on Frobisher when the latter decides he's not going to let Ayrs take the credit for the Cloud Atlas Sextet.
  • In Die Hard when McClane has a gun to one of the robbers' heads:
    Tony: You won't hurt me. You're a policeman. There are rules for policemen.
    McClane: Yeah, that's what my captain keeps tellin' me. [cue a Pistol-Whipping]
  • Parodied in Die Hard with a Vengeance when Zeus aims an automatic weapon at Simon, who calmly calls his bluff. Zeus does pull the trigger, but being unfamiliar with firearms, didn't realize he needed to chamber a round first.
  • In Due Date, Ethan Trimblay accidentally gets Peter accused of terrorism. A Federal Air Marshall points a gun at Peter, telling him to drop the "Device," which is really a Blackberry. Peter sarcastically says, "You gonna shoot me, rent-a-cop?"
  • Fletch Lives: Fletch is being held at gunpoint by the Big Bad, and points out that if he shoots a hundred people partying downstairs will come rushing up to their room. The villain says that those hundred people will be his alibi, and why would he do his own dirty work? Cue The Dragon entering the room with his own gun.
  • High Heels and Low Lifes: After being captured, Mason recognises that Shannon and Frances are clearly amateurs, and calls Shannon's bluff when she is threatening to shoot him: telling her that he knows she won't because she hasn't even turned the safety catch off on her gun. This backfires when Shannon, a nurse, instead fills a syringe with insulin and injects half of it into him: leaving the syringe in his arm. She then tells him that the dose he just recieved will make him woozy and light-headed. If he does not tell her where the money is, she will inject the rest of the syringe, which will be lethal.
  • Holes: In the movie adaptation, near the end before Stanley and Zero find the treasure, a flashback shows Charles "Trout" Walker and his wife Linda confronting Kissin' Kate Barlow and demanding she hand over all the loot she accumulated throughout her crime spree. She goads the armed Trout into shooting her, but he just gives her the following exchange (in the original novel, Linda delivers this line instead):
    Charles "Trout" Walker: I ain't gonna kill you, but by the time I'm finished with you... you gonna wish you was dead.
  • Hudson Hawk. After Almond Joy uses curare darts to paralyze Eddie and Tommie Five-Tone, Anna Baragli shows up and points a gun at her.
    Almond Joy: You're not gonna shoot little ol' me, are you? You're not gonna shoot little ol' anybody. [snip] I read your dossier, sister. [shoots Anna with a curare dart, paralyzing her instantly]
    Note: Anna didn't shoot because she's actually a nun.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • A variant occurs in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy threatens to shoot the Ark of the Covenant with a panzerfaust if the Nazis don't release Marion. Belloq refuses, taunts Indy to blow it up, and points out how Indy can't do it because of the Ark's archaeological value. Indy thinks about it, realizes Belloq is right and gives up. To prove his point, Belloq even helps Indy by holding the German soldiers at gunpoint with a submachine gun when they try to shoot Indy or get in the way of Indy's line of fire.
    • In The Last Crusade, when Donovan has Indy at gunpoint in the Grail temple.
      Donovan: The Grail is mine. And you're going to get it for me.
      Indy: Shooting me won't get you anywhere.
      Donovan: You know something, Dr. Jones? You're absolutely right. [shoots Indy's father]
  • In Jewel Robbery, Teri threatens the Robber with a gun, and he calls her bluff. She proceeds to drop it on his toe by accident, hurting him in the process.
  • In John Wick, Aurelio punches Iosef for stealing John's car and gets a gun to put to his face. Not only is he not afraid, but he's downright insulted that a mook would do this in his own shop pressing the gun right up to his forehead daring the mook.
  • Juice: Q invokes this trope at Bishop, who corners him in a crowded elevator.
    Q: Fuck you gonna do shoot me in an elevator??
  • In Jupiter Ascending, Balem points out Jupiter isn't a killer. He's right, so she lowers the gun and shoots him in the leg, which is still very satisfying.
  • In Kick-Ass 2, when Colonel Stars and Stripes pulls a gun on Mother Russia, she says, "You will not shoot, you are superhero, you help people, you do not hurt them." She then easily disarms him and tries to shoot him with his own gun, only to learn that he didn't have any bullets and was just trying to intimidate her.
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, one of the bad guys starts one of these when the protagonist has picked up the man's gun. The protagonist was very pissed however and doesn't even let him get halfway through his speech.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. Lara Croft teams up with her former lover and Rogue Agent Terry Sheridan to find Pandora's Box. British Intelligence have given Lara the authority to kill Terry if needed, but Terry thinks she's just putting on a tough façade and, when she comes down to it, she can't bring herself to kill him. Tragically, he turns out to be wrong.
  • In Looper, when Joe first shows up on Sara's farm, she pulls a shotgun on him, and reels off specs on the gun's power. He casually replies that, if she was really willing to shoot him, she would have done so, instead of describing the gun. She ultimately does pull the trigger, but the gun was loaded with rock salt, so it was merely painful, rather than deadly.
  • The Losers. Max says while holding the trigger for the snuke. "Now, since you can't shoot me." Cue Clay shooting him in the arm.
  • Lou (2022). Hannah's abusive ex-husband tells her that if she was going to shoot him she'd have done it years ago. As he's kidnapped their daughter she shoots him twice, but gets too close in doing so and he's able to wrest the gun off her.
  • In Mean Streets, "you don't have the guts" - followed by the target fleeing the premises sharpish, only to set up a drive-by in revenge.
  • In the 1944 Fritz Lang movie Ministry of Fear. "You wouldn't shoot your own brother, Carla" says Willi. She does.
  • Minority Report
    • When the precogs predict Leo Crow's murder by John Anderton, their caretaker offers him a Mercy Lead. On the way out, Anderton gets stuck in an elevator with Danny Witwer, the Department of Justice agent. Witwer confronts Anderton about his neuroin addiction, and Anderton in turn accuses Witwer of framing him and pulls a gun on him.
      Danny Witwer: Come on, John, I know you're not going to kill me. I don't hear a red ball.
      [Naturally, this is the moment the Mercy Lead expires, and the "imminent murder" alarm goes off. Witwer reacts very appropriately.]
    • Earlier, the vision of the murder that Anderton will supposedly commit has the victim say "You're not gonna kill me." just before Anderton shoots. The victim turns out to be in on the plot: he was promised that his family would be financially set for life if he allowed John to kill him. He does say exactly what the vision predicted, but it is said out of frustration because he realises that John has no intention of killing him.
  • Mohawk: When Oak sneaks into the American camp, she is confronted by Yancy who points his musket at her. Knowing that the visibly shaky Yancy is a civilian and and not a soldier, she tells him that he is not a killer and that he will not be able to bring himself to shoot her. When Yancy tries feebly to assert that he will if she makes him, Oak tells him that she is with child, at which point her breaks completely; lowering his musket and allowing her to escape.
  • In Mystery Team, Jason goes up to the man holding him and his friends hostage and tells him that he wouldn't shoot them because he's not a killer. He gets shot in the shoulder.
    Jason: HE'S A MURDERER! HE COULD DO IT! [starts losing consciousness] Deep deep down... [passes out]
  • Never Grow Old: After Dutch shoots The Sheriff, Patrick confronts him with a gun. Dutch tells him that he hasn't the stomach to kill anyone; even offering him a free shot and instructing Sicily to let Patrick go if he succeeds in killing him. After a moment, Patrick drops the gun and walks away.
  • Subverted in The Old Guard. Anya wakes up to find her hand strapped to the side of the aircraft and Nile Freeman holding the pilot at gunpoint and demanding that they land. Anya tells the pilot in Russian to play dead when she fires.
    Anya: Trust me, she's not going to shoot you. (beat) I am. (fires causing the pilot to slump over the controls.)
  • Only Angels Have Wings: Geoff is an Ace Pilot. His girlfriend Bonnie doesn't want him to go on a very dangerous flight over the Andes Mountains through a storm, so she pulls a gun. Geoff points out the illogic of shooting him to keep him from killing himself. A sobbing Bonnie puts the gun down on the table—and it accidentally discharges, hitting Geoff in the shoulder.
  • In the French movie Le Poulpe, a woman is holding a bunch of thugs at gunpoint, who say she doesn't have the balls to shoot them (they'd know). One ends up getting shot in the foot.
  • The Retreat (2021): Layna says this when Renee is holding her at gunpoint. Rather than shoot her, Renee crushes her skull with a computer.
  • Ronin (1998): Sam is holding Deirdre at gunpoint when she suddenly realises that he won't pull the trigger and drives off. A car chase ensues.
  • Sexy Beast has a scene where the young pool boy threatens Don with a gun. Don, being terrifying as hell, is pretty sure the kid doesn't have the guts to pull the trigger. He's right, snatches the gun from him and pistol whips him with it. Unfortunately for him, Deedee (who is standing behind Don with another gun) isn't quite so reserved about pulling the trigger.
  • The Silence (2019): The priest leader of The Hushed isn't concerned when Hugh levels a shotgun at him, being just as aware as Hugh that the noise would attract the monsters lurking in the nearby trees and get both of them killed. Unfortunately he's threatened Hugh's daughter, so when the priest takes a step towards Hugh, he pulls back a hammer on the shotgun to show he's willing to take that risk.
  • Silent Tongue: When they are tracking Prescott and Velada across the desert, Eamon pulls a gun on Reeves and demands he takes them back to the Medicine Show. Reeves just looks at his father with contempt and declares "You ain't got the sand".
  • At the climax of The Sound of Music, Rolf has Captain Von Trapp at gunpoint. The captain calmly says this to Rolf, claiming that Rolf is merely a boy trying to be a soldier and not a full-blown killer like his fellow Nazis. He's right...but then Rolf calls the other Nazis to do the job for him.
  • Stag: This seems to be the logic Pete is employing when he presses himself up against the gun Serena is holding and attempts to kiss her. Not so much that won't specifically kill him, but that she lacks the nerve to kill anyone. He's wrong.
  • Tenet: Kat draws a pistol on her abusive husband Andrei Sator, but he says she can't shoot him in cold blood because she's acting out of despair, not anger. He wrestles the gun off her and shoots her shortly afterwards. However, she survives, and in their second confrontation, she is willing to shoot him, having found the anger to do so.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Sarah Connor demands the guards in the mental ward unlock the door, as she has Dr. Silberman hostage with a syringe of drain cleaner in his neck. Silberman tries arguing that she's not a killer, but Sarah reminds him of her "delusion" of impending nuclear war. "We're all dead anyway. You know I believe it, Silberman!" Silberman then tells the guards to open the door. Later though Sarah can't bring herself to shoot Dyson whose death might stop the war, so it appears Silberman was right anyway.
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla
    Akira Ichinose: You can't do it. You wouldn't shoot me!
  • The main plot of Thelma & Louise is triggered in part to this trope, all because the almost-rapist Harlan had to keep running his mouth when the latter woman pulled a gun on him to rightly stop his assault on the former. He pays for it with a bullet through the heart. It happens again to an extremely sexist, and already married, trucker who tried to pick up the girls only for them to instead lecture him on his boorish behavior and order him to apologize. He doesn't, even when a gun is trained on him, and screams "FUCK YOU!" three times, prompting the duo to blow up his truck.
  • In Total Recall (1990), Lori, the woman Quaid is programmed to think of as his wife plays on his implanted feelings while wielding a gun herself, saying "after all, we're married."
  • The Transporter:
    • The Big Bad turns out to be the father of the Damsel in Distress. When The Reveal happens, he says he'll never change and challenges her to pull the trigger on him or The Dragon. She can't do either, but at the end of the movie kills her father to stop him from shooting Frank.
    • He does it again in Transporter 2 during the Cold Open to the gun-wielding woman of the group of small-time crooks who picked a VERY wrong man to carjack. He's just beaten her entire group down and, when she demands him to stop moving or she will shoot, calmly leans right into the gun and asks "Well then, why don't you go do it?" This terrifies her enough to drop the gun, apologize, and run away.
  • In The Wages of Fear, Jo hands his revolver to enraged Luigi and dares him to shoot, which the latter can't bring himself to do.
  • Welcome to the Punch: A Professional Killer goes to visit his grandmother, only to find the Cowboy Cop and Villain Protagonist sitting on either side of her, posing as his old army mates who've come to visit. Unknown to grandma, a third man standing right behind her is pointing a pistol at her head. They make it clear the killer is to come out "for some drinks" while one of them waits with grandma to ensure his co-operation. The killer calls their bluff.
    "You think that keeping a hostage is going to force me into a corner? But none of you have been where I have, seen what I've seen. None of you have the selfless commitment. And not one of you possesses what it takes... to actually put a bullet through the back of that woman's head."
    [shootout ensues]
  • In The Wind (1928), Letty draws Wirt's gun at him when he wants her to leave the place with him. He walks towards her with a smile on his face, knowing she wouldn't dare to pull the trigger. But she does...
  • The World Is Not Enough: Bond Girl Elektra King has been revealed to be the Big Bad mastermind of the movie, and Bond corners her up Maiden's Tower in Istanbul, tossing her a radio to get her to stop the plan to contaminate the harbor with radioactive material. Elektra believes that because they were lovers that Bond won't kill her even if she defies him, misjudging that Bond's devotion to the mission outweighs that.
    Elektra: You wouldn't kill me. You'd miss me.
    Bond: [after shooting her dead] I never miss.
  • In Zombieland, Tallahassee meets with Columbus in their car, only to find that Little Rock had snuck in, stolen his shotgun, and is now able to hold the two hostage. She asks for Tallahassee to turn in his remaining handgun, and when he tries to play it cool with this dare, she quickly fires a warning shot right next to his ears that leads to him acquiescing immediately.
    Little Rock: Gun, please!
    Tallahassee: Like you would ever use a[BLAM]DON'T KILL ME WITH MY OWN GUN!

  • In The 39 Clues, only Ian Kabra is talking to his mother Isabel and saying that she wouldn't shoot her own daughter Natalie, which is what she was threatening to do. She does... But Natalie lives; she only shot her in the foot as a warning.
  • In All the Flowers Are Dying, the novel's antagonist is in a confrontation with one of the protagonists. She has a gun, and he is convinced that she's not going to shoot him. The fact that the scene is told from his perspective, and therefore we can see just how certain he is, in his mind, that she's not going to shoot, and how confident he is in his ability to psych her out of shooting him, makes it all that much more awesome when she shoots him while he's still finishing his thought.
  • A classic example happens in the BattleTech novel Blood of Kerensky part 3: Lost Destiny. Myndo Waterley, Primus of ComStar, believed she had the entire Inner Sphere in her clutches, between her Com Guard's victory in the proxy Battle of Tukayyid and her Operation Scorpion. The general of the Com Guard, Precentor-Martial Anastius Focht, fresh from his victory at Tukayyid was set to confront her over Operation Scorpion (and how it utterly failed) when she revealed her grand delusion to him. After letting her get an earful and being dismissed by the insane Primus, he pulls a gun and delivers an ultimatum, calling her out on her madness by saying that lunatics' dreams are nightmare realities for the sane. Waterley says he's too honorable to shoot someone in cold blood like that, so she turns and leaves to order his arrest... and then Focht shoots her in the back of the head.
  • In The Caves of Steel, R. Daneel Olivaw disperses a riot by threatening to shoot the massed crowd, and to convince them that he will shoot he plays out both sides of the 'You Wouldn't Shoot Me' conversation. He walks the mob through their hypothetical rationalizations that he may have a non-lethal weapon, or may hesitate to use a lethal weapon against multiple people, but then states unequivocally that he has a deadly weapon and he will use it if the riot continues. He presents such calm certainty that nobody challenges him and the riot just fades away, never realizing that he really wouldn't fire since he is a robot bound by the Three Laws.
  • Cold Days has a double example near the end. Dresden, furious at Mab for arranging for Molly Carpenter to be turned into the Winter Lady without her knowledge or consent, points his gun at her -and it's Halloween, the one night a year that immortal beings like Mab can be conventionally killed. Mab tells him he won't pull the trigger, and when Dresden asks why, she says that even if he managed to kill her, doing so would only increase Molly's suffering, as if Mab died, Molly would inherit her mantle as well. Then while Dresden is distracted, she grabs the gun, points it at him, and asks him why she shouldn't just kill him for his insolence. Without missing a beat, Dresden orders Demonreach to lock her up in it's magical superprison if she does. Mab leaves with a wry smile.
  • "The Gutting of Couffignal", a Continental Op story by Dashiell Hammett. The protagonist twists his ankle during events, so has to take a crutch from a crippled boy to continue working. When he finally exposes the Femme Fatale behind events, she calmly walks for the door, because he can't run after her and she assumes he wouldn't shoot a woman just to stop her.
    And I put a bullet in the calf of her leg. She sat down—plump! Utter surprise stretched her white face. It was too soon for pain. I had never shot a woman before. I felt queer about it.
    "You ought to have known I'd do it!" My voice sounded harsh and savage and like a stranger's in my ears. "Didn't I steal a crutch from a cripple?"
  • In one of the Dan Track novels by Jerry Ahern, a neo-Nazi hands his loaded revolver to a nun, taunting her that all she has to do is kill him to free the prisoners. Unfortunately for him the nun is actually Track's Action Girlfriend Desiree Goth in disguise.
  • Darth Bane: Rule of Two: Early on in the book, Zannah has two people at gunpoint. One of them, a pilot who's just served in the Jedi-Sith War, tries talking her down, confident she won't shoot. Except while one of the murders Zannah committed on-board ship was accidental, it wasn't her first. Zannah does, in fact, kill the woman, and the kid sitting next to her.
  • Divergent:
    • In Divergent, Tris shoots both Peter and Eric, but they doubt she'd do it since she's a Stiff. Both end in some non-fatal injury.
  • In an early Don Camillo story and the first film adaptation, there's an agricultural strike at one of the big farms and the cows spend a day and a night without food or water. At some point, Don Camillo has enough and tries to sneak through the strikers and enforcers to feed the dying cows. Communist mayor Peppone, who organised the strike, catches him, and when Don Camillo states his intention he threatens (of essentially being a strikebreaker) to shoot him. Of course, he doesn't, because the two of them are Friendly Enemies with more than a touch of Vitriolic Best Buds; unlike many examples of this trope, though, Don Camillo doesn't take Peppone's submachine gun after calling his bluff. (He filches it later, on the sly.)
  • In Eisenhorn: Hereticus, the titular Eisenhorn is held at gunpoint by a thoroughly disillusioned Godwyn Fischig. Eisenhorn dismisses the threat, confident that his old friend won’t shoot him in spite of everything that's happened. Fischig instantly proves Eisenhorn wrong by blowing out his kneecaps, and would have killed him then and there if not for a third party’s intervention.
  • This is how Achilles dies in the Ender's Shadow sequels:
    Achilles: You can't do it, Bean. You don't have it in you. You can't kill someone in cold blood.
    Bean: Wrong. [shoots him]
  • In Exiles of ColSec, Samella has Arc Villain Lamprey at gunpoint after he's just beaten the everloving snot out of Cord. Lamprey tries to psych Samella out by taunting her, saying that she's too much of a wimp to kill him. Samella replies that even if he were right about that, the same would not be true of putting holes in his kneecaps.
  • Awareness of this trope is how one Spot the Impostor situation is resolved in Galaxy of Fear. Unable to tell the real from the fake, Tash leveled a blaster and said she'd just have to shoot them both. The one who thought she would was the impostor - her real uncle knew this trope, and Tash knew he knew.
  • In The Lion Game, Thrakell Dees tries this on Action Girl Telzey, with indifferent success:
    Thrakell: No. You might have killed me after I tripped you up. You felt threatened. But you won't kill someone who's helpless and can't endanger you.
    Telzey: Don't count on it. Right now, I'll be trying not to kill you but I probably will, anyway.
    Thrakell: What do you mean?
    Telzey: I'm going to shoot as close to you as I can without hitting you. But I'm not really that good a shot. Sooner or later, you'll get hit.
  • In a Nancy Drew book, the gang is held hostage by a crazed football coach. His prize student very slowly and calmly walks toward him and takes the gun out of his hand. The guy has been experiencing one disaster after another throughout the book and has basically been reduced to a sniveling wimp because of this, but he musters up the courage to pull off a Hidden Badass moment.
  • In Red, White and Blood, the third President's Vampire novel, Zach Barrows is holding his nemesis, rogue CIA agent Helen Holt at gunpoint. Helen tries to bargain by telling Zach she knows where the Boogeyman is going to try and kill the President's wife and kids (including Zach's longtime crush in the President's daughter) but Zach refuses to make a deal, still resentful over Helen having had him tortured in the first book and knowing that if she escapes, he will be first on her target list for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and empties his gun into her skull.
    Helen Holt: Without me, you'll never find him.
    Zach Barrows: I'll take my chances. [Boom, Headshot!]
  • Six of Crows: Kaz's final play in the confrontation with Geels is staring down an armed man, telling him to go ahead and shoot, relying on his ability to get inside his head. It works.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In A Storm of Swords, when Tywin Lannister is held at crossbow-point by his son Tyrion, he ignores the latter's warnings not to use a certain word. Boy, was the former in for a surprise! All he can manage to say afterward is "You shot me!"
    • In A Dance with Dragons, Theon gets the successful variant. A spearwife becomes angry with him and threatens his life. For the first time in about a year, he outright grins and tells her that she needs him to get past the guards. She disgustedly lets him go.
  • Spaceship Medic by Robert A. Heinlein. General Briggs tries to take over the spaceship and says this to Chief Kurikka when he's confronted at gunpoint. The Chief agrees, but only because he wants Briggs to live to stand trial. He takes Briggs down with Good Old Fisticuffs and then makes it clear he will shoot Briggs' followers if they don't immediately drop their weapons. They do.
  • In the Star Wars novels, Xizor is dumb enough to pull this on Darth Vader, right after trying to kill his son and disgrace him in front of the Emperor. Arguably justified from Xizor's point of view as he's the third most powerful man in the galaxy and essentially the Star Wars version of a Bond villain. Unfortunately, in a galaxy with Darth Vader, even Bond villains are punks.
    Xizor: What are you going to do, Vader? Destroy my skyhook? You wouldn't dare. The Emperor—
    Darth Vader: I warned you to stay away from Skywalker. Recall your fighters and deliver yourself into my custody or suffer the consequences. I will risk the Emperor's displeasure. However, you will not be there to see it, this time.
  • In Tharsis Rising by Andrew Stanek, Skull asks Fay to shoot him, while remarking he knows she will not as he can see her hands shaking, and that it is against human nature to kill others. She is unable to do so, and Skull uses this as an example that despite having a powerful weapon, she wields no actual power due to her inability to shoot it, although it turns out the gun was never loaded in the first place.
  • Tree of Aeons: Most of the world's leaders are sure that Aeon's threat to stop their war by kidnapping them all is a bluff. The smart ones, however, know that he feels no need to bluff.
    Those older, and have seen the more violent era were wise enough to know I would, and they tried their best to persuade those sitting on the fences.
  • There is a complicated, twisted example in The Vor Game where both the shooter and the shoot-ee were running a mutual bluff on a third party. The story contains numerous betrayals and counter-reversals throughout but ends with Gregor Vorbarra, Emperor of Barrayar, as the prisoner of Cavillo, a mercenary who hopes to portray herself as Gregor's rescuer and persuade him into marriage. Miles Vorkosigan, friend/cousin to Gregor who is trying to really rescue him, has set himself up as a fellow schemer and power-player that Cavillo will need to either team-up with or eliminate in order to take control of Barrayar. With Gregor playing along with Cavillo to convince her that he has succumbed to her control, they board Miles' ship and Miles immediately threatens to blow Gregor into atoms with a plasma cannon. Claiming that it is just a bluff, to assure Cavillo that he can predict and control Miles Gregor walks forward until the muzzle of the plasma cannon is against his chest...which physically separates him from Cavillo and allows Miles to trap her behind walls of blast doors.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: In Red Leech, Gilfilan says after Sherlock has managed to wrestle the rifle off him and is pointing it at him. Sherlock proves him wrong by pulling the trigger, but the rifle jams.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100:
    • In "The Other Side", Bellamy moves to open the bunker door while Clarke has him at gunpoint. He tells her that if she shoots him, she'll need to make it a kill shot to get him to stop. She lowers the gun in tears.
    • Then in "Blood Giant", Clarke once again has Bellamy at gunpoint. He tells her "You're not gonna shoot me, Clarke." She shoots him right in the heart.
  • 24: In Season 3, terrorists release a deadly biological weapon in a hotel. CTU quarantines the building, but one man panics and stats to run. Michelle Dessler tells him she'll shoot him if he does. He looks at her for a bit and says "No you won't". He's wrong.
  • In the climax of 5ive Days to Midnight the villain says this, but has taken precautions in case he's wrong.
    "You can't pull the trigger. I saw you yesterday; you had a clear shot at Roy. You don't have the balls." (JT pulls the trigger, only for the gun to click) "Or the bullets, in case you do have the balls."
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Asset", after Skye disarms Quinn and points his gun back at him:
    Mook: Kid's got balls.
    Skye: Thanks, but... yuck.
    Quinn: But do you have what it takes to pull the trigger?
    Skye: [beat] Nope! [jumps out a window]
  • Arrow:
    • The Huntress says this to Oliver Queen, knowing that even though they're opposed to each other, they have feelings, having briefly been in an intimate relationship. He subverts this and fires an arrow at her, but she catches it having practised the move for just this situation.
    • John Diggle's former commanding officer (now a professional bank robber) says this to Diggle and he's right, but Oliver has no such qualms and shoots an arrow into the man who is about to kill his friend.
    • Tommy Merlyn tries to stop his father Malcolm from carrying out the Undertaking, but he gives this trope and easily disarms him. In a later episode Malcolm approves that his illegitimate daughter Thea does have the willpower to shoot him (he's wearing a Bulletproof Vest) and uses this to make a "Not So Different" Remark.
    • When The Arrow first introduces himself to Laurel Lance by Trespassing to Talk, he walks right up to the gun she's holding on him and even walks behind her. It's some time before Laurel asks herself why she'd innately trust a hooded vigilante killer enough to let him do that.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003). While investigating the Black Market, Apollo learns that its ringleader, an ex-mercenary turned crimelord named Phelan, went so far as to start selling children as sex slaves. The trope then shows up in this exchange:
    Apollo: [holding Phelan at gunpoint] There's lines you can't cross, and you've crossed them.
    Phelan: You're not gonna shoot. You're not like me. You're not gonna—
    Apollo: *BOOM*
  • Boardwalk Empire: Nucky, Jimmy, and Chalky have captured two of the D'Alessio brothers, one of whom had tried to assassinate Nucky on the boardwalk.
    Sixtus D'Alessio: [seeing Jimmy cock his gun] Oh, fucking tough guy, what, ya gonna shoot me for mouthing off?
    Jimmy Darmody: Well I wasn't going to, but you kinda talked me into it. [shoots him in the head]
  • Breaking Bad: After learning that Brock, the son of his girlfriend, is at the hospital, gravely ill, and finding the ricin cigarette he was carrying missing, Jesse goes to Walt's house and accuses him of having it stolen and poisoning Brock with it. Walt denies and claims that Gus did it to manipulate Jesse into killing him. Jesse refuses to believe Walt at first, but when Walt shoves the barrel of his gun against his own forehead and dares him to shoot if he's so sure, he eventually relents to his logic. This was all part of a Batman Gambit from Walt, who actually did exactly what Jesse suspected (except for using a more common and less toxic poison on Brock) to turn him against Gus instead.
  • Michael Westen of Burn Notice gets this from time to time. In one case, someone he'd been unable to bring himself to kill once before was proven wrong while in the middle of shouting "Your trigger finger has RUSTE- (bang)". It was Just a Flesh Wound, but still pretty awesome.
  • Chuck: Happens several times to Chuck Bartowski in the third season:
    • The first time, he has the Big Bad of the episode at gunpoint when she tries to escape, but she rightly guesses Chuck won't pull the trigger. Unfortunately for her, Shaw does before she can finish drawing her own concealed weapon and shoot him instead.
    • Midway through the season, Shaw twice goads Chuck on his inability to kill. The first time ends with Chuck getting his butt kicked and Shaw escaping with Sarah, intending to kill her. Chuck takes off in pursuit and corners him, trying to talk him down by telling him that he (Shaw) can't do this. Shaw tries to call his bluff again, but this time Chuck does pull the trigger to protect Sarah.
    • And again in the season finale, Chuck has Shaw's throat in a choke-hold, but refuses being goaded into killing him for good. Shaw tries to tell him off for being weak, before being clobbered by Sarah, who tells him that it's what makes Chuck great.
  • The final flashback in an episode of Cold Case has the last of the three victims telling the killer, "I'm your BROTHER! You're not going to kill me!" Sadly, he was wrong.
  • Columbo: In "Fade Into Murder", Claire Daley tries to call Ward Fowler's bluff. It is, of course, not a bluff.
  • Criminal Minds has one episode where a serial killer has psychologically tortured and broken a child for years and forced him to help her kidnap other children for their "family". However, when she orders him to help her load the children into a crematorium, he points a gun at her. She laughs and says "You gotta be kidding". Turns out he wasn't as broken as she thought.
  • Daredevil (2015): James Wesley kidnaps Karen Page and tries to scare her into telling lies about Wilson Fisk by threatening to have Matt and Foggy killed if she doesn't. He pulls out a gun he took from Fisk's main bodyguard Francis and puts it on the table between them to emphasize his threat. When he's distracted by the sound of his phone ringing as Fisk tries calling him from the hospital, Karen suddenly lunges for the gun and trains it on Wesley.
    James Wesley: Come on. Do you really think I would put a loaded gun on the table where you could reach it?
    Karen Page: I don't know. [pulls back the hammer] Do you really think this is the first time I've shot someone?
    James Wesley: Miss Page- [Karen shoots him in the shoulder to prove she's not bluffing. As Wesley stares at the blood oozing from his bullet wound, Karen empties another six rounds into him, killing him]
  • Doctor Who:
  • Farscape
    • In "Look at the Princess: I Do, I Think", John Crichton has been captured by Lieutenant Braca, who's going to take him to Scorpius who wants Crichton's knowledge of wormholes. Crichton realises that he's too valuable to kill, so when Braca threatens to shoot him, he uses this to take control of the situation.
      Crichton: Fine, let's do it, then! [grabs Braca's arm to point the gun at his head] No, not the brain! He wants the brain! [points gun at heart] The heart! Here! Shoot me in the heart! [points gun at groin] Here! John Wayne Bobbitt! Vienna Boys Choir! [sings falsetto]
      Braca: You're Insane!
      Crichton: [points gun at right hand] My sex life! Kill my sex life! Now! Shoot! [swats gun away]
    • In "Home on the Remains", Chiana gets the drop on B'Sogg and orders him to drop his gun and kick it away. B'Sogg feigns ignorance and condescendingly tells Chiana that she wouldn't kill him in cold blood. Chiana agrees and lowers her weapon — then raises it again, fires at a Budong pustule on the wall, which sprays yellow acid all over him.
      Chiana: I'm evolving as an individual.
  • Father Brown: In "The Final Devotion", Father Brown picks up the gun the killer had dropped and points it at him. After a moment's hesitation, he concludes that Father Brown does not have it in him to shoot a man in cold blood and taunts him with this before taking the gun off him. Only later does he discover that Father Brown had unloaded the gun before he took it back.
  • In the Firefly Pilot Movie, Dobson is being held at gunpoint by Simon after trying to kidnap River, and goes to pick up his other gun. Simon tells him not to move, but Dobson remarks that, even knowing the risks Simon took to break River out of the Alliance's lab, he's still a Non-Action Guy without the nerve to actually shoot to kill. Fortunately for Simon, Mal arrives in the cargo bay moments later, and very much isn't.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the final episode of the third season, Ygritte holds Jon Snow at arrow-point after he flees the wildlings and by extension her. Jon says that she won't hurt him. She shoots him. Three times. He survives and barely manages to escape. It's later pointed out in season four that Ygritte has improbably good aim so Jon would be dead if she'd really wanted to kill him. If Jon had said she wouldn't kill him, he would have been right, but she clearly had no problem with shooting him a bit.
    • In the Season Four finale, Tywin states so regarding Tyrion when his son is pointing a crossbow at him. Tywin really doesn't believe that Tyrion has it in him to kill his father. When Tyrion does shoot him, it's obviously partly to prove that he can, damn you — and it takes Tywin quite a bit of time to comprehend that it in fact happened. However, Tyrion may very well not have if Tywin didn't repeatedly call Shae a whore. Tywin kinda had it coming, though
  • House of the Dragon: In her teens amidst the stolen dragon egg crisis, Rhaenyra Targaryen reminds her uncle Daemon that in order to be heir again, he would have to kill her, knowing that he wouldn't do that.
Rhaenyra: I'm right here, uncle. The object of your ire. The reason that you were disinherited. If you wish to be restored as heir, you'll need to kill me. So do it. And be done with all this bother.
  • Hunter:
    • A pimp says this to DeeDee McCall in the premiere episode. It's no surprise he turns out to be wrong.
    • In the second episode McCall's old partner, who has become a hitman after getting fired from the force, says this to her when she tries to arrest him. He's right in this instance and almost kills McCall before Hunter intervenes.
  • Justified:
    • The pilot has a variation where Raylan asks Dickie, who has a shotgun aimed at him, if he thinks he can chamber a round before Raylan draws and shoots him. Dickie's too much of a coward in the face of Raylan's cool to even resist as Raylan then crosses the distance and yanks the gun out of his hands.
    • Mags tells Loretta this when Loretta breaks into her home. Subverted. She gets shot in the leg.
    • Quarles tells Donovan this when Donovan confronts him about killing Brady. He doesn't, but Quarles brutally tortures and sexually assaults him, and he only survives because Raylan finds him in time.
  • Killing Eve: The season finale of season 1 contains two contrasting instances of this trope.
    • When Anna pulls a gun on Villanelle, Villanelle says she can't do it. She's right.
      Villanelle: [to Irina] This is an example of someone who thinks they can shoot a gun but they can't. You're safe.
    • When Eve pulls a knife on Villanelle, Villanelle claims she can't do it. She's wrong, and Eve does. It's Zigzagged though—Eve instantly reacts with My God, What Have I Done?, but still, she did do it, and there's a lot of meaning in that.
      Villanelle: You can't.
      Eve: I can. [stabs] I can!
  • In one episode of Law & Order, an escaped murderer kills four children in a school, then drops his gun as police storm the building. As Green holds him at gunpoint, the murderer taunts, "You can't shoot me. I'm unarmed." The next shot of Green shows him moving his finger to the trigger. Fortunately (for himself, if nothing else), he comes to his senses before going through with it.
  • From Lost:
    • "The Beginning of the End": Jack is threatening Locke with the same gun Locke pointed at him before.
      Locke: You're not gonna shoot me, Jack, any more than I was gonna shoot—
      [Jack pulls trigger. Gun clicks.]
      Locke: It's not loaded.
    • Two back-to-back episodes earlier in the series also play with this trope, possibly making the above example a callback. In "The Glass Ballerina", the "Other" Colleen tries to convince Sun she's not a killer, only to wind up with a bullet in the gut for her trouble. In a flashback in "Further Instructions", Locke is faced with the same dilemma while pointing a rifle at undercover cop Eddie. Locke can't do it and Eddie walks away unharmed.
  • Magnum, P.I.: At the end of "Did You See the Sunrise?", Magnum confronts Ivan, a Russian agent who's about to walk free after murdering a POW, masterminding an attempt to turn Magnum's friend TC into an assassin, and killing one of Magnum's friends with a car bomb in a misaimed shot at Magnum. Ivan is unconcerned, chiding Magnum that he's far too honorable a man to shoot someone in cold blood. Right? Wrong.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Blood Will Out", the Victim of the Week (an Asshole Victim if ever there was one) is threatening to thrash the killer with his belt. The killer grabs the loaded shotgun that was laying on the desk to defend herself. The victim makes his final mistake by goading her that she doesn't have the guts to pull the trigger. Wrong.
  • NCIS this situation happens often enough. Gibbs doesn't negotiate with terrorists or hostage takers and employs crack shots on his team. The bad guys usually stand down. The ones who call the bluff usually get a Boom, Headshot!.
    Gibbs: Last chance, Norvell.
    Norvell: Move, or I'll do it!
    Gibbs: Take it. (Ziva shoots Norvell in the head)
  • In the Backdoor Pilot for NCIS: New Orleans, Agent LaSalle is enjoying a cup of coffee at a local bar when a kid tries to hold the place up at gunpoint:
    LaSalle: (pulls back his jacket to reveal his badge and gun) Federal agent. Put down the gun. (sips his coffee)
    Kid: (scoffs) You wouldn't shoot me. (reaches for the money).
    LaSalle: (disarms him in two seconds and pins him to the wall) I didn't shoot, but I should take a belt to your punk-ass.
  • The New Avengers: At the end of "Obsession", Purdey and her New Old Flame are standing pointing guns at each other, with him standing between her and the rocket that is about to be launched at the Houses of Parliament. He calmly states that she will not be able to bring herself to shoot him. However, Gambit, who arrives at this point, has no such qualms and shoots him.
  • Peacemaker: Peacemaker's father, a loathsome white nationalist who has finally decided to outright murder his son, confidently says this while staring down the barrel of a handgun held by the title character. He is wrong.
  • The Punisher (2017): Amy manages to wrestle away a bounty hunter's Hand Cannon and turn it on him. The man barely gets "You're not gonna-" past his lips before she shoots him in the chest.
  • In a two-part episode of Smallville, Clark runs away from home to Metropolis with a dose of red kryptonite, which removes all of his inhibitions and morals. Jonathan decides to pursue him and bargains with Jor-El to receive temporary superpowers to help, as a human alone can't possibly stop Clark. The two fight a pitched battle, but Clark eventually gains the upper hand and has Jonathan pinned against a wall. Jonathan then dares Clark to kill him, saying that if that's the kind of child he raised, then he's not his son at all. Clark ultimately rears back and punches...the wall, shattering the kryptonite and freeing him from its influence.
  • In the 1992 TV movie Stalin, Sergo Ordzhonikidze discovers that his brother has been tortured into giving false testimony against him. He grabs a pistol to shoot Stalin, who just says that he won't shoot because then Russia would fall into chaos, the fascists would invade and Sergo would go down in history as the man who betrayed Russia, and his family would suffer the consequences. If he shoots himself however, his death would be declared a heart attack and he would be buried with honours. Stalin then turns his back on him and walks out the door, pausing briefly on the stairs as he hears a gunshot.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys", Kivas Fajo tries this on Data. After having kidnapped him as a trophy and killing a woman Data became friends with, Data has the villain at gunpoint and demands that he surrender. Fajo, however, believes this to be an empty threat, as Data is programmed to have a fundamental respect for all life and would therefore be unable to find the motivation to harm him, let alone kill him, and goes on to claim he'll just keep killing people if Data doesn't do as he says. In response, Data lowers the gun and quietly weighs his options for a brief moment, and concludes that, as Fajo has already shown a willingness to kill and has now outright threatened to do it, he poses a clear and active danger to others, so Data is obligated by his programming to stop him as quickly as possible, but Data is also faced with the problem that he has no non-lethal ways of subduing Fajo, as he wears a force-field belt that prevents Data from touching him, so he cannot physically restrain him, and Fajo has refused to surrender peacefully and have shot down all of Data's attempts at reasoning with him. Data decides that he only really has one way of stopping Fajo and resolutely raises the gun against him again. Fajo is quickly reduced to gibbering pleading as it dawns on him that Data is about to do, but Data determinedly pulls the trigger...but before the shot can go off, he's beamed back to the Enterprise. Fajo believed that Data wouldn't shoot him because as an emotionless android, he would be incapable of feeling anger or a desire for revenge. This was correct, but anger and revenge aren't the only reasons to kill. Data made the cold, but perfectly logical calucation that in this circumstance, killing one person was the only way to save the lives of many other people.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Skin", Sam pulls a gun on Dean after being separated, suspecting that the Dean in front of him is really a shapeshifter. Dean again dares him to pull the trigger, only this time Sam doesn't because he isn't sure. Turns out he was right and gets decked when he hesitates.
    • In "Asylum", Sam gets Brainwashed and Crazy and encouraged to vent his anger violently by a spirit. He threatens Dean with a gun, so Dean dares Sam to go ahead and vent. Sam pulls the trigger, only to find that Dean had been smart enough to give him an empty gun after Sam had vanished earlier.
    • At the start of Season 2, the Winchesters have been rammed off the road by a demon-possessed truck driver who goes down to finish the job, only to find Sam pointing the Colt at him. Knowing the Colt has One Bullet Left which they need to kill the Yellow-Eyed Demon, the demon trucker taunts him with this trope, but is forced to flee when Sam makes it clear he will shoot to protect his family.
    • In "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2", the Yellow-Eyed Demon tells Jake that the Colt is the one thing that can kill him. He then points the gun at his own head, gives it to Jake and starts mocking him
      Yellow-Eyed Demon: Oh, my. I'm shocked at this unforeseen turn of events. Go ahead, Jake. Squeeze that trigger. Be all you can be. This'll all be over. Your life can go back to normal.
    • In "Bad Day at Black Rock", there are two mirrored cases when Dean tells the person "You're not gonna shoot anybody. You see, I happen to be able to read people. Okay, you're a thief, fine. But you're not a killer." In the first case, it works and it looks like he can read people. The second time, the person shoots before he can finish saying it.
    • Masterfully used by Sam in "When the Levee Breaks": when he escapes from the panic room, Bobby catches up to him and threatens to shoot. But of course, he backs down and gets a Pistol-Whipping by Sam.
  • In the 2013 mini-series Top of the Lake, when protagonist Robin pulls a gun on Al, who turns out to be the head of a paedophile sex ring, he mocks her and makes sexual noises and motions with the barrel of the gun against his chest, not believing she would pull the trigger. His "Oh fuck!" when she does is both mildly amusing and somehow quite satisfying.
  • True Blood: Franklin smugly asks Jason, who's got him at gunpoint, if he's really planning to shoot him: it's not like bullets will do anything to a vampire whether Jason shot him or not. Jason proceeds to blast him with a wooden bullet, which reduces Franklin to a puddle of gory goo.
  • The Walking Dead (2010) has Dale pulling a gun on Shane, whom he rightly suspects to be a murderer when they're alone in the woods, but he calmly walks up until the muzzle's pressed against his chest and dares Dale to pull the trigger. After a moment, Dale just walks off.
  • Warehouse 13: When H.G. Wells attempts to destroy the world, Myka forces a gun into H.G.'s hands and points it at her own forehead, convinced there is enough good left in H.G. that she won't be able to pull the trigger.
    Myka: If I am wrong, then kill me. Do it! Kill me now! I mean, we're all going to die anyway, right, so what's the difference? So shoot me. Just shoot me now. Kill me, but not like that. Not like a coward. I want you to look me in the eyes and take my life.
  • Wedding Season:
    • After Donahue catches on to Metts and tries to arrest her at gunpoint she tells him he wouldn't shoot her because he loves her. It's able to distract him enough for her to steal the gun and handcuff him to the desk so she can escape.
    • In the final episode, Donahue says that Metts wouldn't shoot him because she's a good person and they've been through a lot. Once again she proves to be the more ruthless of the two and shoots him. He survives due to wearing a bulletproof vest and because Stefan (a doctor) is around.
  • Yellowjackets: In "Digestif" Shauna and Jeff have their minivan stolen at gunpoint, but she manages to grab the gun while struggling with the thief. Later she goes to the garage where her van is being kept and demands its return at gunpoint. The owner tries to call her bluff, to which Shauna responds by describing in detail what it's like to remove the skin from a dead body, showing him she's being serious. It works; she recovers her minivan.

    Video Games 
  • In the very first scene in The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush must talk Wally into a Heel–Face Turn by outright daring him to shoot Guybrush, knowing Wally doesn't have the guts to do it.
  • In Heavy Rain, Paco Mendes tries to pull this on Madison Paige. He's right, the Origami Killer does. But not after Madison squeezes his balls a little...
  • The final (regular mission) target in Hitman: Blood Money is Mark Parchezzi III, who like 47 is a clone created to be the ultimate assassin. During their confrontation, Parchezzi combines this with a "Not So Different" Remark, but 47 isn't hearing it.
    Parchezzi: You can't shoot me, 47. I'm just like you...
    Agent 47: I can do whatever I'm paid to.
  • In I Am Alive, your pistol is used as a Weapon for Intimidation as much as it is for shooting people. However, unless you take out the bolder members of the group first, they'll eventually decide to call your bluff and attack.
  • In Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Maw challenges Kyle Katarn to kill him after the latter defeats him in combat. When Kyle refuses to do so, Maw goes on to describe in horrible detail just what exactly happened to Kyle's father. It works, and immediately after the reaction, there is a look of genuine horror on Kyle's face.
  • In The Last Express after the main character pushes the train on through the Austrian/Serbian border:
    Anna: [Points gun at Cath] We're still within the Austrian Empire. In the name of the emperor, I order you to stop the train! ...Do you think I won't shoot you?
    Cath: Go ahead!
    Anna: [Looks and sees them approaching the border] Now you've done it. Damn you.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Commander Shepard really likes pulling their sidearm during conversations. Usually, those on the receiving end say something like this, only to have Shepard remind them that they're above the law.
      Asari Merchant: You can't shoot me!
      Shepard: I don't give a Vorcha's ass about your security cameras!
    • Alternatively, Shepard can find another way to kill people who say this.
      Eclipse Guard: I've got nothing more to say to you. If you shoot me, my men will...
      [Shepard pushes the mercenary out the window.]
      Shepard: How about 'Goodbye'?
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. There are guards (if held up) who will not give away their items immediately, either questioning for their identity, objective, or invoke this. The only way for them to give away their items is to fire a shot near them to make them comply. For some reason, they can distinguish between a non-lethal and lethal weapon ensuring that only the latter method will make them cooperate.
    • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Ocelot thinks this is being invoked when told he doesn't have what it takes to kill Snake and swiftly tries to prove him wrong. Turns out Snake was really suggesting that It Works Better with Bullets, as Ocelot was used to the 8 shot Makarov pistol and had emptied his 6 shot revolver, which Ocelot finds out the hard way.
  • Perfect Dark:
    • In the first mission, when you break into Cassandra de Vries' office to steal the key to the sub-basement levels of dataDyne where Dr. Caroll is holed up, she claims that you won't shoot her. She's right — you can't shoot her if you want to complete the mission because the key is designed to stop working if its owner dies. But you already knew that from the mission briefing. You just knock her unconscious instead.
    • Later, in the extra mission "Mr. Blonde's Revenge", where you, playing as a Skedar enforcer in his human disguise, have to actually kidnap Cassandra, she will say the same thing as you escort her to the helipad at gunpoint. Even the "foolish child" part.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, when John Marston corners Javier Escuella at gunpoint, Javier tells him, "Come on, you're not going to shoot your own brother, are you? We was family." Based on your actions, he can be either right... or dead wrong.
  • In Remember Me, in one of the memory remixes, the player must arrange it so that Frank kills Alexia, prompting him to shoot himself in his guilt. In the remixed memory, Frank stumbles when he goes for his gun, and Alexia scoffs at him, saying, "What are you going to do? Shoot me?" while adding that he has never turned the safety off...and if the safety has been turned off in the remix, Alexia gets shot in the struggle to get the gun out of Frank's hands.
  • Resident Evil:
    • In Leon's A scenario in Resident Evil 2, Leon is eventually held at gunpoint by Ada Wong who wants the virus sample he is holding. When she threatens to shoot, Leon simply says "You wouldn't do that". He's right; she lowers her gun and is immediately shot in the shoulder by another character. In an interesting bit of Alternative Character Interpretation, examining the gun afterwards reveals that it has no bullets.
    • Both of Leon's scenarios in the Resident Evil 2 (Remake) are the same, Leon and Ada hold each other at gunpoint, but Leon ends up lowering his weapon and telling Ada to shoot him, betting that she's unable to. Again, she can't shoot him and ends up lowering her gun.
      Leon: Then you shoot me, but I don't think you can.
    • At the final scene in Resident Evil 3 (Remake), Carlos holds down Nicolai so he can't escape and gives Jill the chance to shoot him. If you hesitate, Nicolai will taunt Jill by saying she doesn't have what it takes to shoot him. If you still don't take the shot or miss completely, Nicolai will be proven right as he breaks free, slices Carlos' neck, and then throws the same knife right into Jill's head.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory: Douglas Shetland: "You wouldn't shoot an old friend, Fisher." You can choose to either lower your gun, in which case he will pull a knife on you that you end up killing him with, or shoot him right there. Either way, the Bond One-Liner is "You were right, I wouldn't shoot an old friend."
  • Larson in Tomb Raider: Anniversary attempts to get Lara to stand down by saying she wouldn't be willing to kill him to get past him. He turns out to be wrong, although Lara is shaken by what she did for the rest of the game.
  • In Detroit: Become Human, Connor can call Hank's bluff when he drunkenly holds a gun to Connor's head to test whether he's afraid of dying. Depending on their relationship at the moment, this either works or results in Hank shooting Connor in the head.
    Connor: [pressing his forehead against the muzzle] You know you're not not going to shoot me, Lieutenant. You're just trying to provoke a reaction. I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you.


    Web Original 
  • In the Dream SMP roleplay, in an argument between the two, Schlatt mocks Quackity for being too cowardly to shoot him. Quackity responds by shooting Schlatt, taking his second canon life, before leaving the country and joining Pogtopia.
  • Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction: South Dakota should have known better than to taunt her former partner that she had figuratively and literally shot In the Back sometime before this. "Oh come on, Wash. What are you gonna do, shoot m-"
  • This article opens with this trope: Repo man tries to repossess a plane. Militia points a gun at him, ignored. Fires a shot in the air, ignored. Bluff called.
    Popovich's first rule of firearms is pretty simple: The man who tells you he's going to shoot you will not shoot you.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied and discussed in an early American Dad! episode, where Francine threatens Stan with a gun for turning their backyard into an internment camp. Stan cites this trope word for word, elaborating that soon her arm will get tired, she'll drop the gun, and then they'll go and have "nobody got shot sex". Exactly that (sans sex) happens, and Francine storms out.
  • Archer: Villain of the Week Spelvin approaches Cyril armed with nothing but a katana. Cyril closes his eyes and fires a volley of bullets...leaving Spelvin completely unharmed and Archer complaining about how much Cyril sucks. Then they notice that while Cyril didn't hit Spelvin himself, he did successfully destroy Spelvin's computer, completely ruining his plan.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Harlequinade", Harley turns against "Mistah J" because he's going to blow up Gotham City without doing anything to save any of the other villains or her pet hyenas. (As Batman points out, he would have left her to be blown up as well if she hadn't happened to already be on the scene.) The confrontation escalates until Harley is pointing a machine gun at the Joker's head. He dares her to pull the trigger, tauntingly declaring that she doesn't have the guts. She does pull the trigger... of a "Bang!" Flag Gun (neither of them knew that). The punch line is that the Joker is pleased and impressed that she actually went through with it.
    The Joker: (smiling sincerely) Baby, you're the greatest!
  • Beast Wars: Silverbolt and Blackarachnia had a Dating Catwoman relationship throughout the second season, with the Knight in Shining Armor Silverbolt constantly talking about redeeming Dark Action Girl Blackarachnia. When she grows fed up with his speeches she threatens to shoot him, only for him to say that she will not do it because he knows she has good inside her. Just to prove him wrong, she shoots him. Though shocked, Silverbolt looks for a silver lining by pointing out that she shot him in the leg, not anywhere instantly lethal. She then threatens to shoot him in the vital circuits and he wisely stops talking.
    • A later episode has Optimus and Megatron confronting each other in the Ark, the Autobot spaceship from the original show which at that point in time is currently inactive with all the Autobots and Decepticons in stasis awaiting the year 1984 where they'll reactivate to begin the Great War and events of the original series. In this case Megatron knows Optimus would easily shoot him under normal circumstances but calls him out that he wouldn't risk a firefight in the middle of the Ark and risk upsetting history by a stray shot causing damage to the ship or it's inhabitants or leaving evidence of their being there behind. As it's currently around 4 million BC however, Optimus points out that they have several million years before the G1 cast is due to wake up which is plenty of time for him to clean Megatron's remains up and fix any damage that might be caused so Optimus might take that chance and Megatron decides to retreat for the moment.
  • Family Guy: The two-parter where Stewie simulates killing Lois, ends with Lois holding Stewie at gunpoint, but can't kill her baby. But Stewie's dad Peter sure can.
  • Justice League: The spirit of the trope is present at the start of "A Better World". Justice Lord!Superman confronts President!Lex Luthor after he along with Batman and Wonder Woman storm in the White House. When Luthor threatens to push a button to launch a nuke to start off off a war, Superman states that there are at least six ways he could stop him from doing that, but Luthor retorts that all of them involve using deadly force, and Superman wouldn't do that because being a hero is too important for him. Unfortunately, he ends up pushing Superman over the edge a little too much, and the Kryptonian decides he's done being a hero and kills him with his Heat Vision.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • The Earth Queen is extraordinarily arrogant and believes that her position protects her even after her guards have been defeated. When threatened by Zaheer, she claims that he would not dare harm a queen. What the Earth Queen does not know is that Zaheer is a member of an anarchist revolutionary group that specifically dislikes world leaders, so he has no compunctions against attacking her and proceeds to suffocate her to death using his airbending.
    • Baatar Jr. calls out Varrick's bluff to blow up all the spirit vines, the train they're on, everyone on board including himself, and everything within a few hundred yards, when Varrick gloats that he's rigged the train to explode. Varrick's response is to smirk and tell Baatar Jr. to "stick around for 5 more minutes and find out." In no time at all, all of Kuvira's men have gotten off the train. It turns out Varrick wasn't bluffing and the train indeed explodes, though some quick thinking and earthbending on Bolin's part saves both of their lives. Naturally, Varrick acts like this was part of his plan from the getgo and it's unclear if it actually was or not.
  • Men in Black: The Series: J and K end up in this position several times, with J holding the gun on K. Inevitably, J can't bring himself to shoot his partner, but he usually finds another solution.
  • ReBoot: In the second-to-last episode of Season 3, Matrix finds Megabyte and is about to shoot him. Megabyte mockingly says something about putting the gun away and "try fighting like a real sprite". Matrix hesitates, but ultimately complies... and then punches Megabyte so hard that he knocks him away, and leaves a dent on his chest!
  • South Park: When a madman with a gun threatens the boys while they're pretending to be superheroes, Mysterion actually tells his friends to leave, walks up, presses his own forehead against the barrel of the gun, and dares the man to shoot. Not that he really had to worry because he reveals in the same scene that he can't die. Turns out Mysterion was Kenny. The Running Gag of him dying and coming back was a legitimate superpower.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie": While they're fighting, Boimler points his phaser at Mariner and threatens to shoot. The maverick scoffs at the possibility of the by-the-book brown-noser firing it at her only for him to do so and knock her out.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Voyage of Temptation": Tal Merrik correctly assumes that Satine Kryze and Obi-Wan wouldn't kill him while unarmed. Unfortunately for him, Anakin has no problem with it.
    • "Carnage of Krell": Jedi-turned-traitor Pong Krell, after he's captured by the clone troopers who discovered his treachery, claims that Rex, because he's just a clone, won't kill him even after he slaughtered dozens of his fellow clones, despite Rex's gun being aimed right at his head. He's right about Rex... but fellow clone Dogma can and does.
    • "Escape from Kadavo": The Kadavo slave master Agruss is confronted by Obi-Wan and Rex. When an angry Obi-Wan threatens him with a lightsaber, Agruss smugly states that a Jedi would not kill an unarmed man. Seconds after saying that, he's impaled with a thrown electrostaff, courtesy of Rex.
      Rex: I'm no Jedi.
    • "Unfinished Business": When Anakin threatens to kill Admiral Trench in order to make him give up the last digit of the code to disarm the planet-buster bomb threatening Anaxes, Trench doesn't take it seriously since he's a Jedi, so Anakin cuts off all of his artificial limbs in order to convince him otherwise, claiming he no longer has "weaknesses" like being noble. Then, after giving up the code, he shocks Anakin with a taser hidden in his cane, so Anakin stabs him in the chest.
  • Star Wars Rebels. Subverted in "Blood Sisters". Sabine's exact words to Ketsu are "I don't believe you can do it", and later, more firmly, "You can't do it". Ketsu assumes that this trope is what Sabine means, but Sabine is actually being literal: Ketsu physically cannot shoot her, because Chopper has just sabotaged her weapons array.
  • Steven Universe: In "Lars of the Stars", Lars deduces that Emerald is too fond of the Sun Incinerator that the Off Colors stole from her to destroy it. However, that doesn't mean she won't disable it to keep the Off Colors from taking off with it.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    Brock: You two don't want to shoot me. You know what I'll do to you if you do.
    • The Season 4 opener has a subverted example when Brock infiltrates the Blackhearts and comes face to face with his former mentor, Hunter. Brock asks whether Hunter has the balls to shoot him, and Hunter responds "no, but she does". Cue Molotov rising from behind her desk and shooting Brock.

    Real Life 
  • While extremely unwise to attempt in real life, one woman in New York stood up to a pair of gun-toting thieves, telling one of them who was pointing a weapon right in her face that he didn't have the balls to shoot her. Luckily for her, she turned out to be right.
  • In the above case, there were no other eyewitnesses to corroborate her story and police could only go on the woman's word alone. What happened to actress Nicole duFresne, however, was witnessed by her friends and fiancé, and serves as a very sad and brutal reminder of why you should not try this in real life.
  • A news segment featured the tagline QUOTE FROM MAN STABBED, then the following quote, as he fortunately survived:
  • Serial Killer Dean Corll thought this of his accomplice, Elmer Wayne Henley. On one fateful night Henley brought his girlfriend along with a victim he procured to Corll's house. Corll was enraged, as he only preferred boys. Henley and Corll had an argument that ended with the latter binding the former with the other would be victims. However, Henley persuaded Corll to release him, promising him that he'll rape and murder his girlfriend while Corll would go after the boy. Just as Henley was about to assault his girlfriend, she woke up from the drug stupor they were in earlier than expected and pleaded with Henley for help. Henley then pointed a gun at Corll and told him to stop, but he laughed it off and tried to retrieve the gun from Henley, who shot him in the forehead. By some miracle, the bullet failed to fully penetrate Corll's skull, who kept walking to Henley and shouting that he wouldn't kill him. So Henley shot Corll again. And again. And again and again and again...
  • An university student pulled for speeding was shot by a campus officer after sarcastically asking, “Oh, you're gonna shoot me?”
  • One case from the early 90s had a married man dealing with an obsessed ex-girlfriend with her at one point brandishing a handgun at him. He called her bluff, even pointing the gun at his heart. She then managed to lure him back to her home again, with him still believing that she didn't have it in her to hurt him, where she shot him. And then killed herself.
  • After Napoléon Bonaparte escaped from Elba, the new French king, Louis XVIII, sent an army to apprehend him. When the army reached him, Napoleon told them, "If any of you will shoot his Emperor, here I am." The army joined Napoleon.


"Too Much of a Pussy"

In the Dream SMP roleplay, Schlatt mocks Quackity for being too cowardly to shoot him. Quackity responds by shooting Schlatt, taking his second canon life, before leaving the country.

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Main / YouWouldntShootMe

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