Everyone Is Armed

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Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail clad men, waited the beck of the warders ten
Thirty steeds both fleet and wight, stood saddled by day and night.
Barbed with frontlet of steel I trow, and with Jedwood axe at saddlebow

A hundred more free in stall: such was the custom of Branksome-Hall.
Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Walter Scott

In this trope, a crowd of people (patrons in a bar, people in line at the bank, worshippers at church, etc.), are all armed to the teeth, down to the old lady with a walker, the nun, and the clown with the balloons. Like Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, only with guns, swords, knives, brass knuckles, etc. In other words, a crowd where everyone's a Badass Bystander. Often overlaps with World of Badass. When someone makes the mistake of threatening these people not knowing how well-prepared for trouble they are, it's a case of Mugging the Monster.

A variation of this is when the hero and the villain meet in a supposedly neutral public place, only to have it turn out that all the bystanders are really the villain's Mooks.

Examples of Everyone Is Armed include:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books


  • In the 1985 Chuck Norris movie Code of Silence, two armed robbers attempt to hold up the bar where all the off-duty cops hang out. It does not end well.
  • In Fast Five, Dom reminds Hobbs that they are no longer in the United States and states "this is Rio". Suddenly everyone in the crowd pulls out a gun.
  • In RoboCop 3, a Rocket Scientist picks the wrong doughnut shop to attempt to rob.
  • Predator 2: several people in a subway car draw guns in response to an attempted robbery. But since they're all shortly killed by a Predator anyway, it hardly matters.
  • In The Naked Gun: Nordberg takes about five minutes breaking down the door to arrest a boatload of villains. He finally gets through the door but everyone in the cabin already has their hardware out and pointed at him.
  • During the escape from the Death Star in A New Hope, Han Solo chases a small group of Stormtroopers right into a room full of more Stormtroopers. In the Special Edition, Lucas turns it up to 11 by making the room an entire Hangar full of CGI Imperials.
  • Last Action Hero, The funeral scene where all the mourners- including grannies and nuns- whip out firearms.
  • In Hot Fuzz, someone casually mentions that there are more guns in the English countryside than in the cities. Sure enough, during the final confrontation, literally everyone in town has a gun.
  • In Blazing Saddles, this was the reception Sheriff Bart received upon entering Rock Ridge for the first time. Even the schoolmarm was packing!


  • The Dean Koontz novel Frankenstein: Lost Souls: an attempt to begin assimilating the townsfolk en masse at a gathering goes awry when it turns out that almost every adult in town carries a firearm, and the villains encounter significantly more resistance than they had planned on.
  • Healer by F Paul Wilson. One of the planets in this fictional universe is Flint, basically the Planet of the Anarchist Gun Nuts. Everyone there is armed. Invaders who have been using a portal technology to launch terror raids try this on Flint only to instantly come under fire by everyone they encounter. (Thanks to Der Trihs of the Straight Dope Message Board)
  • The novel The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith portrays a minarchist society in an alternate history North America, where no one would think of not being armed.The Web Comic version is here
  • In Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code, Artemis and Butler walk into the bystander Mooks version.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels
    • Feet of Clay has a bunch of robbers burst into a tavern frequented by the City Guard: "As their eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, they received a general impression of armorality, with strong overtones of helmetness." They try to take a hostage, but make a poor choice.
    • In Hogfather there is an attempt to coerce cooperation out of the patrons of Biers. This was also a poor choice.
  • Averted by Barrayarans in Vorkosigan Saga, surprisingly for a Proud Warrior Race. Only Vor and their retainers(including servicemen who are all of course the retainers of the Emperor) are allowed personal arms and Counts are only allowed a personal bodyguard of twenty armsmen. Police don't seem to count in this calculation although they are certainly armed. The reason for this is chaos in the past which makes Barrayarans willing to endure a more-or-less enlightened absolutism.
    • Similarly in Honor Harrington the Steadholders on Grayson are limited in the number of armsmen they can field, for the same reason, that there had been a civil war in the past.
  • In 1632 if not everyone, a sizable portion of the town of Grantville was armed. As this was supposedly a typical American rural town(the number of badasses it had was rather above-average of course) it only carried what the twentieth century considered good for hunting. In the seventeenth century it could give pause to an army.
  • In A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows a border world has a dispute with The Emperor about this. No disloyalty is intended, not least because the local monarch would rather have the emperor's military protection then not. But local military tradition is not only a necessity on the border but the military has a large influence on social life which would be hard to change. The dispute is in point of fact a mere difference of opinion but there is an Evil Plan to escalate it into a civil war.

Live-Action TV

  • The opening scenes of Burn Notice shows Michael running away from the bad guys which involves a car chase through busy streets. When they stop and pull guns on him, however, about two dozen bystanders whip out firearms of their own, allowing Michael to escape.
    • Michael lampshades this by noting Nigeria as the "gun running capital" of Africa, and that it wasn't a good place to have a car chase.
  • Mega Python vs. Gatoroid on Syfy. There was a scene at a outdoor function that the gators / pythons attacked, and as soon as the attack began, everyone (including the waiters) was suddenly packing heat, and laid down a torrent of lead.
  • Reno 911!: Miami, where Dangle fires a gun to quiet a rap party and all of the participants pull out and aim their guns at him and Junior.
  • The TV series Turks's pilot episode featured an attempted robbery of a cop bar.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • The world of Remnant in RWBY at first glance looks like this, but the sample is biased by virtue of the story being focused mostly on professional warriors, military, students and staff of combat schools, and criminals. The average person in the street does not appear to be armed, at least in the protected Kingdoms. Settlements in the wilderness, however, may be a different story.

Video Games

  • A cheat code for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas causes all pedestrians to be armed, carrying everything from handguns to RPGs.
  • Due to a glitch in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, attacking certain pedestrians and then standing on a car would result in the pedestrian running confused into the vehicle for a few seconds before pulling out a pistol and attacking you with it.

Western Animation

  • Rango, where the title character asks if anyone has guns to contribute, and they all pull out multiples, even the cute little mole girl.
  • The Simpsons
    • In the first part of the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" storyline, every adult in town but Marge and possibly the Mayor is packing heat at the town meeting.
    • It eventually is strongly hinted that Marge does habitually go armed, with the very gun Homer was eventually convinced to stop carrying.
    • Spoofed in the episode that parodied Tom Sawyer. Everyone on a riverboat pulls a derringer on each other at the same time. Then they fire them and the bullets bounce off the windows. Them derringers are weak. Powerful weak.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'Im", various Batman villains meet in a club and tell tales of how they almost killed Batman once. Turns out one of them is Batman in disguise trying to get critical info. When he reveals this they all pull out guns; but then every patron in the club pulls out a gun pointing at the villains - they were all undercover Gotham police, making this an example of the bystanders being the hero's mooks.

Real Life

  • In early human history the men of most families were expected to be proficient with arms, first for hunting then later for defense against beasts and each other. Some cultures also let women carry defensive weapons like knives to protect themselves and their children and some places even considered it acceptable to arm the children. After standing armies became common, bladed implements like knives and machetes were still widely carried as all-purpose tools until modern regulation of lethal and potentially lethal weapons. People in several Asian and African countries as well as more remote areas of developed nations still wear their knives openly.
  • Some historical social classes, such as gentlemen in Europe and samurai in Japan, carried weapons as a symbol of their station. In Europe, when swords went out of style, walking sticks took over, which were essentially fancy clubs. Thus, when you were rubbing elbows with the elite, everyone was armed.
    • In Medieval Europe a surprising proportion of society had access to weapons and took part in warfare fairly often and sometimes more effectively then one might expect from their station in society. There was of course the traditional warrior class. But even peasants often had arms especially in rough country-though they were often only adapted farm tools. Burghers of course had their money as a "weapon", but they also had warships and walls and war machines, later including cannon which the noble class often could not pay for. As well as crossbows which were a favorite Italian specialty. Jews were usually disarmed but there were even exceptions to that in odd corners here or there-enough for cases involving weaponry to enter into the Talmud. Even clergy a number of times became noted warriors.
      • It's somewhat a myth in some circles that the population was disarmed. In fact often they were just forbidden swords. Or in other words it was a sumptuary law not an arms control one. Like all such laws not all that effective. After all a rich man could get a hold of a sword and a man who could prove noble ancestry (which was sometimes calculated rather ambiguously anyway to the effect of "daddy always said we were lords") in some places had a right to one even if he lived like a peasant. In any event, knives, polearms, bows, whatever were in the hands of everyone.
      • There was often not even a prohibition of swords to commoners. That sort of thing depended on a multitude of regional idiosyncrasies (the sociology and politics of the Middle Ages was so labyrinthine that any time you say one thing someone else can always say, "What about..."). However swords were expensive as they required the highest bladesmithing technology available to handle the stress. While a sax or a falchion did its job good enough to defend against bandits or fight local vendettas. Furthermore, no one would want to buy a sword unless they are going to soldier for a living or are just vain.
      • According to one account a Spanish King once mandated that everyone own a sword for militia service. So all the poor folks came around with their traditional Navajas (Spanish fighting knives). In this case the inspector effectively said, "close enough".
    • In England the Cinque Ports (naval militia from a chosen number of royally favored ports, originally five -- "cinque" is Italian for "five") had a corporate noble status and the Warden could enter the House of Lords. Freeholders of course usually practiced archery -- and indeed were often required to. In Scotland which had fewer knights they depended on the wild country and its wild clansmen who usually had arms for cattle thieving and feuding as well as sturdy lowlanders who could handle a pike pretty well. Switzerland had its famous pikes. And Venice had its galleys which were usually rowed by freemen perfectly capable of handling a blade.
  • Early Medieval Scandinavians even of fairly low status tended to have a sax (utility chopping knife), an ax (also useful for wood in the more mundane and less specialized form and thus something farmers might have), hunting weapons, the ever popular spear, and improvised equipment if nothing else suits. Some even had swords although those were rather expensive and you would probably only buy one if you thought there was a good chance you might use it. They would have all kinds of reasons for fighting from local feuds, to going on a raid, to defending against a raid (for vikings went a-viking against each other) to hiring out with some noble when he is going to war, to simply defending oneself when one travels.
  • Sikh men are required by religious law to carry a knife with them at all times. These days it's usually a small, ceremonial knife.
  • Exaggerated in the retelling but basically true: The Guy who tried to rob a Gun Store
  • In recent years most of the states of the US have passed handgun carry laws that allow almost any law-abiding citizen with a clean record to obtain a permit to publicly carry a firearm, and going armed has become more common.
  • The attempt by the James/Younger gang to rob a bank in Northfield Minnesota in 1876 led to several of the gang members being killed or captured by armed citizens.
  • And the attempt by the Dalton gang to rob two banks in Coffeyville Kansas in 1892 ended in a gun battle. It was the last raid the Dalton gang ever made.
  • Kennesaw, Georgia famously passed an ordinance in 1982 actively requiring most heads of households there to possess a gun and ammunition.
  • This happening repeatedly is why Hamas switched to bombing instead of using guns in Israel.
  • Being armed and trained for militia service is part of the duty of citizenship. In fact this inspired Heinlein in writing Starship Troopers.
    • It is the same in Switzerland which was a major inspiration for Starship Troopers. Not coincidentally it was also an inspiration for a number of aspects of the IDF.
  • Every few years another incident makes the news in which crooks attempt armed robbery in places where multiple off-duty police officers happen to be.
    • One notable example involves the robber robbing a bank branch in New York, directly under the FBI's office, on payday.
    • There have been notable examples of inept criminals trying to rob bars or restaurants frequented by off-duty police (which, in many places, tend to be frequented by few others). There has also been at least one example of rather cleverer criminals staging an apparently stupid attempt to rob such, then a second group arriving after the obvious happens, posing as another, unfamiliar group of police. The second group of criminals then attempt to trick the real police in the establishment out of their guns to conduct a real robbery.
  • In Tales of the Alhambra Washington Irving commented about this aspect of Spain. As there had not only been a recent guerilla war, but the government was corrupt and incompetent, disorder was rampant and private subjects were often forced onto their own resources.
    • Spanish knife fighting is a plebian tradition complimentary to the more courtly rapier and arising from such turmoil. In Spain(not otherwise a country famed for female egalitarianism)even women regularly learned how to use knives and knives made for women were decorated and had cute slogans to the effect of, "I am devoted to my mistresses honor". Gitano(Spanish Roma) have their own curious tradition of using horse shears as a combat weapon.
  • It was perfectly true in the Old West (and in some parts of the modern West) that practically everyone owned a firearm. It was not true that there was a shootout everyday or that everyone was a gunslinger or indeed that it was routine for any given person to fire on any other given person. They were used more often to deal with dangerous beasts and gather food then to have showdowns at high noon.
    • Pack and wagon trains along the Santa Fe Trail (roughly between the Missouri river and richer settlements in the American Southwest) were known to take field artillery with them. Quite sensibly, as they carried a lot of stuff someone else might want to relief them of.