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.
- Alice doesn't shoot — she uses the gun as a club instead.
- Alice doesn't shoot — but she fixes Bob with a absolutely scorching Death Glare and warns him not to test her, suggesting that she indeed has not only the resolve, but also the anger necessary to pull the trigger, and its only a wafer-thin thread of morality, patience, or even pity for Bob that (just barely) holds her back from actually doing it. Bob quickly realizes that he has gravely underestimated Alice and his bravado instantly vanishes and he backs down from his challenge, if he doesn't outright starting meekly begging her not to hurt him.
- Alice shoots a bullet over his head, into the wall or somewhere else that will make a loud noise. How this demonstrates her ability to shoot a person is unclear, but it at least indicates that she is willing and able to fire the gun. Or, perhaps, it was exactly what she aimed at anyway.
- Bob gets shot in the leg, shoulder or other place where the wound won't be instantly fatal.
- Bob is right, Alice would not shoot him. But Carol, standing next to Alice, has no such moral concerns.
- Alice tries to shoot him, but fails (similar to the above "he takes the gun right out of her hand" scenario).
- Boom, Headshot!!
- Alice doesn't shoot — she simply tells Bob he will have a death wish after she's finished with him.
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. 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.
- 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.
- Terror of Mechagodzilla
Akira Ichinose: You can't do it. You wouldn't shoot me!
- From Death Note:
"You won't shoot-"
(cue hail of bullets)
- 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.
- 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.
- Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta says this to Future Trunks when the latter threatens to ki-blast him to stop Cell from reaching his Perfect form. Trunks proves him 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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's 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 in 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.
- 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.
- In Disney's adaptation of Tarzan, during the climactic fight, Tarzan steals Clayton's gun and points it at him. Clayton mockingly tells him "Go on, be a man!" Cue a gunshot which was just Tarzan imitating the sound with his mouth. He then breaks the gun, saying "Not a man like you!"
- The Incredibles has a variation: the imprisoned Mr. Incredible attempts to kill Syndrome after his family is seemingly killed by missiles blowing up their plane, but Mirage pushes him out of the way and gets grabbed instead. Mr. Incredible threatens to crush her to death if Syndrome doesn't release him from his manacles, even stating how easy it would be "like breaking a toothpick". Syndrome's only response is to tell him to "show me", and after a few intense seconds, Mr. Incredible drops her in defeat. Needless to say, Mirage is not happy that Syndrome was willing to gamble her life like that and it's partially why she releases Mr. Incredible later on.
- 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?"
- 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.
- Elektra King does this one in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough: "You wouldn't kill me. You'd miss me." Bond's reply, of course, is "I never miss."
- 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.
- 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 Indiana Jones and 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]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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 KILLER!
- 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.
- 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 you'll stick at nothing to get those letters, then go on. Here, I'll make it easy for you." 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.
- Minority Report: "Come on John, I know you're not going to kill me. I don't hear a red ball."
- Earlier, the vision of the murder that John will supposedly commit has the victim say "You're not gonna kill me." just before John 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.
- In the 1944 Fritz Lang movie Ministry of Fear. "You wouldn't shoot your own brother, Carla."
- 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 shot in the foot.
- 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 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 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 immediately calls his bluff. Not that he didn't think Zeus would shoot him (Zeus immediately tries) but because Simon could see that Zeus, who was unfamiliar with the weapon, hadn't taken the safety off.
- 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.
- Welcome to the Punch (2013). 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)
- Bound (1996): At the end, Violet has a gun on Caesar:
Caesar: You don't want to shoot me, Vi.... I know you don't.
Violet: Caesar, you don't know shit. [shoots him]
- 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 Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sitwell is convinced 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 rescused by Falcon and returned to the rooftop.
- 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 American Gangster, Tango taunts Frank Lucas that the latter wouldn't shoot him. Lucas proves him wrong, and then returns to his lunch while everyone else stares in shock.
- 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.
- 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.
- Juice: Q invokes this trope at Bishop, who corners him in a a crowded elevator.
Q: Fuck you gonna do shoot me in an elevator??
- 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?
- 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 Wind (1928), Letty draws Wirt's gun at him when he wants her to leave the place with him. He walks towards he with a smile on his face, knowing she wouldn't dare to pull the trigger. But she does...
- 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.
- 8mm: Private Detective Tom Welles is hired to investigate whether a piece of film that appears to show a group of men murdering a young girl is real. Over the course of the film he finds that they really did murder the girl, and begins tracking down the men involved. The first one he corners, played by James Gandolfini, taunts him about how stupid it would be to shoot him with a gun that's legally registered in Welles' name, then says that Welles doesn't have the guts to do it anyway, even going so far as to lick the barrel of the gun pointed at him. Welles doesn't shoot him... until after he takes a minute to talk to the mother of the murdered girl and hit a Rage Breaking Point. Then he bludgeons Gandolfini's character to death with the butt of his pistol instead, thus neatly avoiding how a bullet fired from his gun could incriminate him.
- Holes: In the movie adaptation, near the end before Stanley and Zero find the treasure, Charles "Trout" Walker and his wife Linda confront Kissin' Kate Barlow and demand 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.
- 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.
- The Silence (2019): The 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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]
- 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.
- * 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.
- 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 whom 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.
- 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 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 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.
- Young Sherlock Holmes: In Red Leech, Gilfilan says after Sherlock has managed to wrestle the rifle off him and his pointing it at him. Sherlock proves him wrong by pulling the trigger, but the rifle jams.
- 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.
- 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.)
- The Gutting of Couffignal, 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?"
- 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.
- 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.
- From Columbo:
- In "Fade Into Murder," Claire Daley tries to call Ward Fowler's bluff. It is, of course, not a bluff.
- 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.
- "The Beginning of the End": Jack is threatening Locke with the same gun Locke pointed at him before.
- In Arrow, The Huntress says this to Oliver, 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.
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.
- In the first season episode "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.
- Also in the first season, "Shifter", 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- From Doctor Who:
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, 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 showed 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 coldly logical decision that in this circumstance, killing one person was the only way to save the lives of many other people.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- In the episode "Invasive Procedures," the Dax symbiont is stolen and implanted into a new host, leaving Jadzia to die. As the newly minted Verad Dax is attempting to escape, Sisko threatens him with a phaser... but Dax is quick to remind "Benjamin" that even set on stun, the phaser risks killing the symbiont, who has been Sisko's friend in two of its previous hosts. Then, as he makes for the getaway shuttle:
Garak: What if you'd killed me?
- Garak tries this on Bashir in "Our Man Bashir", declaring his intention to cut and run, leaving Bashir's fellow officers to potentially die. Bashir responds by shooting Garak in the shoulder as he turns his back.
Bashir: What makes you think I wasn't trying?
- 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]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Walking Dead 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.
- 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—
- 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.
- 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...
- In Agents Of Shield, 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Farscape: When Crichton realizes Braca won't harm him when he's being delivered to Scorpius (who wants Crichton's knowledge of wormholes), he quickly takes control.
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 the Back Door 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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]
- 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.
- 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 Not So Different, 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 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Perfect Dark:
Cassandra: You won't shoot me, foolish child!
- 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's half 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 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.
- In Leon's A scenaro 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 Alternate Character Interpretation, examining the gun afterwards reveals that it has no bullets. The 2019 Remake uses this scene for both of Leon's scenarios, though this time it's a Mexican Standoff where Leon ends up lowering his weapon and invoking this trope.
- 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.
- 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 group first, they'll eventually decide to call your bluff and attack.
- 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 some time 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.
- In 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.
- Used with a twist in The Venture Bros. when Hank and Dean are Brainwashed and Crazy.
Brock: You two don't want to shoot me. You know what I'll do to you if you do.
- 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.
- In 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.
- The Family Guy 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.
- When a madman with a gun threatens the boys of South Park 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.
- 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 compeletely 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- In the Steven Universe episode "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.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Jedi-turned-traitor Pong Krell, after he's captured by the clone troopers who discovered his treachery, claims that Rex, a simple clone, won't kill him even after he slaughtered dozens of his fellow clones, despite Rex's gun being aimed right at his temple. He's right about Rex...but fellow clone Dogma could and did.
- 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.
- Quote from man stabbed:
- Serial Killer Dean Corll thought this of the teenage victim he had brainwashed into providing new victims for him, Elmer Wayne Henley. Corll was about to rape and murder two of Henley's friends, but they woke up from the drug stupor they were in earlier than expected and pleaded 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, again, 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.