I Just Shot Marvin in the Face

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
This is why you're supposed to treat the gun as loaded. Now you know, And Knowing Is Half the Battle.

Vincent: Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face.
Jules: Why the fuck'd you do that?!
Vincent: Well, I didn't mean to do it; it was an accident!

Guns are dangerous. That's why there are various rules for safely handling them. When these rules are not followed, whether it be by experts or untrained John Q Public there's a chance for an accidental discharge. That's when somebody gets shot. Sometimes in the face. Being named Marvin is rare, however. Either way, it's not funny the same way that Juggling Loaded Guns is, because somebody just got shot.

This trope occurs when somebody didn't follow the Gun Safety requirements or simply has a shoddy weapon that goes off, hurting, killing, or destroying a lot of property, and the gunshot is not played for comedy.

It gets better when the accidental shootings that result from this mishandling of weapons are plot points, as these kinds of accidents are precisely why the safety rules are in place.

The precise rules on the safe operation of firearms vary from one organization to another, but the most common points can be read at our Useful Notes on Gun Safety page.

This trope is named after Vincent's line in Pulp Fiction after he exhibits staggering incompetence with basic firearms safety, resulting in things getting worse for him and Jules, and much worse for Marvin. (See the entry in the Film examples for details.)

This is frequently the result of some combination of Reckless Gun Usage, Artistic License Gun Safety, and Reliably Unreliable Guns. Compare Juggling Loaded Guns for when somebody getting shot by accident is due to Rule of Funny.

Examples of I Just Shot Marvin in the Face include:

Anime and Manga

  • Baccano!, when the celebratory gunshot the head of the Martillo family fires is immediately met with "Oh my God, somebody just killed Isaac!" from the floor above.

Comic Books

  • Avengers Initiative: Gauntlet, a military superhero who is supposed to be a highly experienced Army drill instructor, is training a group of teenagers how to safely use their superpowers. He unaccountably decides to make his raw recruits' first exposure to a live-fire exercise to be a combat simulation drill under chaotic conditions[1]. He then, rather than following basic procedure and clearing people out of potential impact areas, instead leaves the rest of the recruits standing around as spectators right next to the action instead of putting them behind the nearby bulletproof observation barrier. To cap off this epic display of stupidity he then decides to 'stress test' one recruit by having someone else whose power is to create fearful hallucinations inside a person's mind to use that power on her while she is mid-exercise. Predictably enough, the recruit enters a panicked hallucinatory state and starts firing wildly at all of her imaginary enemies, and kills one of her squad mates (who were, remember, left standing directly adjacent to where she was expected to be firing) with a stray shot. Gauntlet somehow has the supreme gall to not only be completely surprised at this outcome, but to then blame the recruit for 'recklessness' and order her superpower-gadget to be confiscated and her to be discharged in disgrace.
    • As a punchline? The recruit in question was the one who was cybernetically bonded to a plasma cannon capable of blowing away skyscraper-sized mecha in a single shot. Really, its a miracle that she didn't kill everyone in the entire building.
  • Y: The Last Man, an untrained woman is holding a hostage at gunpoint, whom she kills by mistake when her finger slips.

Films -- Live-Action

  • Pulp Fiction. The Trope Namer. Vincent, an "experienced hitman", is talking with Marvin, a guy he and Jules picked up in the aftermath of their hit near the beginning of the movie, in the backseat of Jules' car. While speaking with Marvin, Vincent is not only casually waving his handgun in the air, not only resting his finger on the god-damned trigger, but lays his wrist on the back of the seat with the barrel pointed directly at Marvin's head.[2] So, when Jules hits a bump,[3] Vincent accidentally fires the weapon, shooting Marvin in the face and not only blowing his brains all over the rear window, but splattering gore all over the inside of the car, including both Vincent and Jules. Thus it is demonstrated to everyone in the audience just why you should always watch where you're pointing your weapon and, perhaps more importantly, keep your finger away from the trigger unless you intend to shoot wherever the gun points (oh, and let us not forget the safety). While the shooting does become a major plot point, Vincent's initially only-mildly perturbed reaction to his mistake is one of the funniest moments of the movie, making the Trope Namer a less strict version of this trope. See the scene in question here.
  • The Boondock Saints, after deciding to help the McManus brothers, Rocco slams his fists on the table to make his point, but his weapon, a Reliably Unreliable Guns Beretta 92, is lying on said table with the barrel pointed straight at his girlfriend's cat. Needless to say, the gun goes off, and you can pretty much guess what happened to the kitty. Note that this is physically impossible with the Beretta 92. The pistol is clearly shown on safe in the scene, which separates the firing pin. Additionally, the firing pin block is only removed when the trigger is pulled. It was mostly shocking until Rocco's dumb-assed question: "Is it dead?!" Then it became hilarious.
  • Planet Terror (half of the Grindhouse double-feature), in which Dr. Dakota Block gives a gun to her child, when she leaves him alone in a car. He accidentally shoots himself within a few seconds of her leaving the car. And right after she warned him to be careful, no less.
  • Out of Sight, Jack is at the top of a staircase being held at gunpoint by one of the bad guys, who begins to approach him, still ready to shoot—only to trip on the stairs and shoot himself in the head. Ouch.
  • The Proposition, one of the policemen accidentally shoots his toes off.
  • Stone Cold, where Lance Henriksen is playing the Big Bad.

Chains Cooper: You know, it's moments like these I remember the last thing my father told me... "Careful son, that gun's loaded!"

  • The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, Geoff Tipps accidentally kills Mark Gatiss this way.
  • Starship Troopers, the film frequently and constantly fails gun safety. During the long-shot of the "Live Fire" exercise, you can see that the range has no walls to the sides and other trainees are doing their thing right next to it. The recruits take the course in teams, with the next sent directly behind the previous! Then, the characters must face off against targets that shoot lasers at their training vests, which give the victim an electric shock. This causes one soldier to clamp down on the trigger and fire wildly in all directions, killing another. Rico is blamed for taking the recruit's helmet off, when the whole scene was a disaster waiting to happen. This was definitely intentional on the part of the director, who was satirizing military culture.
    • Another scene, in a recruitment film, some soldiers were showing children how to shoot an assault rifle. The children start fighting over the weapon. The soldiers then give out the bullets.
  • Commando. After Arnold Schwarzenegger gets locked up in a police van, Rae Dawn Chong tries to free him with a quad-barrelled missile launcher. Unfortunately she points the wrong end at the target and blows up the shops behind her. Although given that the launcher, the M-202 "Flash", fires rockets tipped with a compound similar to white phosphorus (and would have incinerated the van), someone was getting screwed no matter where it was pointing.
    • Four Lions: Omar tries to take out a spy plane with a missile launcher in the same way, accidentally destroying the terrorist headquarters directly behind him and killing Osama Bin Laden.
  • Harlem Nights, Quick is being pursued by a group of gangsters following his car. He suddenly hits the brakes, causing their car to hit his. The two guys in the backseat lurch forwards, and their tommy guns both go off, inadvertently killing the front-seat passenger.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night part II after witnessing Ricky kill a few people a police officer confronts him to arrest him while casually twirling his gun, Ricky punches him causing him to shoot himself in the face.
  • 8 Mile, the movie. Eminem's friend shoots himself (in a very sensitive part) in the act of putting a gun in his waistband—with surprisingly little reaction.
  • Big Jake: when Michael's fancy new semi-automatic pistol goes off accidentally, causing everybody to quickly dive for cover. Unfortunately, Big Jake doesn't realize that the gun's magazine holds eight shots, not the standard six, so he leaves cover rather prematurely.
  • A Very Long Engagement: one of the soldiers accidentally shoots himself in the hand whilst trying to club a rat with the butt of his automatic... and gets sentenced to death for self-mutilation.
  • Be Cool: Dabu exhibits a terrifyingly poor grasp of basic gun safety throughout the movie. He always keeps his finger on the trigger, resulting in accidental discharge on more than one occasion. One of those times, it ends up being fatal for a Russian mob lackey. Dabu is at least somewhat self-aware, lampshading his poor gun handling by telling his boss that if he doesn't want this sort of thing to happen, he shouldn't give Dabu a gun in the first place.
  • In Snatch, a dog jumps up on Avi and grabs the diamond out of his hand, then runs out of the room. Avi responds by firing his gun wildly, trying to hit the dog without being mindful of what (or who) is in the line of fire. One of the shots hits and kills Bullet-Tooth Tony by mistake.
  • At the end of Strangers on a Train, the cops chasing the clearly unarmed Guy through a carnival break every police firearm procedure there is by firing at him as he runs through a crowd of children. One of the shots hits and apparently kills an innocent bystander, who happened to be operating a merry-go-round, causing it to careen out of control.
  • In Lone Star State of Mind, the incredibly Too Dumb to Live character Junior begs the others to loan him a gun. They refuse, of course. At the end, as soon as he gets a gun, he accidentally shoots Earl in the back, then himself in the nuts.
  • In Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, one of the college kids ends up wildly aiming a gun at Tucker & Dale, when Dale provides the ill-timed advice of needing to turn the safety off. He ends up struggling with the gun, and ends up blowing his own head off.
  • In In Time, Will and Sylvia have stopped a car, but the driver doesn't want to get out. Sylvia is just randomly pointing her gun at him, but it accidentally goes off. The driver is scared as shit, and proceeds to quickly get out.
  • In Fierce Creatures Vince is waving a gun around while he is trying to decide whether he should shoot his father or kill himself. Once he is disarmed, Bugsy picks up the gun, and as he is fiddling with the safety, he accidentally discharges it. The bullet hits Rod straight in the center of the forehead, killing him instantly.


  • House of Leaves Holloway accidentally shoots and kills his friends thinking them to be the monster he believes to lurk in the house, and thus is Driven to Suicide.
  • The Plague Dogs, wherein Snitter encounters one of the men from the hunting party alone who, upon seeing his bandaged head, feels sorry for the little dog and can't shoot him. He calls to Snitter, intending to Pet the Dog. Snitter, overjoyed, rushes over and jumps up on the guy only for his toe to catch on the trigger of the man's rifle which was aimed upwards, at its owner's face, accidentally blowing off the man's head.
  • Schroedingers Ball begins with the main character having just shot himself in the face, fatally, while cleaning his grandmother's gun. However, he's hardly an expert. In fact, the book goes so far to as to point out his inexperience in handing firearms in the "Dramatis Personae" section at the very beginning.
  • The Ten Teacups, in which the victim is wrongly assumed to have been shot at close range because he had a powder burn from when the killer "accidentally" shot him with a blank cartridge the previous day.
  • Vorkosigan Saga novel Memory. Miles demonstrates why uncontrolled seizure disorders and charged plasma rifles do not go well together by accidentally kneecapping the hostage he was attempting to rescue.
    • During a fake general fleet inspection in Warrior's Apprentice, he makes a deliberate demonstration on gun safety by asking a mercenary whether his guns are stored charged or uncharged, then firing the "uncharged" weapon right past the man's ear.
  • In the Riftwar novel Wrath of a Demon King, the Knight-Martial of Krondor is killed by one of his own men when he mishandles a loaded crossbow.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek: Voyager has an odd ship-to-ship version of this trope in Message In A Bottle when the Mark 2 fires off a torpedo without locking a target, which hits a Federation ship. They shot U.S.S. Marvin in the face. He was trying to launch torpedoes, but at the Romulan ship instead.
    • Mark 1: You hit the wrong ship!
  • My Name Is Earl: Chubby has a squirt gun full of vodka he uses to top off patrons drinks at his strip club, and an identical looking real gun. He didn't learn from his mistake when he shot a drink with the wrong gun on screen. You can all guess how he died off screen.
  • Monk. After fighting a suspect for a gun, Natalie turns around, gun in hand. She tells Monk, who had already been shot in the leg earlier in the episode and was trying climb down some stairs to assist Natalie, that she was okay... and accidentally shot Monk in his uninjured leg. Justified in that Natalie is not a trained user.
    • Used in another episode where a man was found shot dead in his panic room along with his pet monkey. Stottlemeyer is dubious that the monkey could even use a gun, let alone shoot his owner four times, so he tries an experiment—he asks Disher for an unloaded gun, who hands him a pistol that he claims to have unloaded, and Stottlemeyer gives it to the monkey. Neither Disher nor Stottlemeyer verified that the gun was unloaded. Stottlemeyer then tries to agitate the monkey enough so that it fires the gun, while Disher, Monk, and Natalie leave the two in the interrogation room. Disher then realizes that he accidentally gave Stottlemeyer a loaded gun, and try to warn the chief, but the monkey then fires the gun and shatters the one-way mirror. Stottlemeyer then declares the case closed.
  • CSI has several examples.
    • In one caseC Nick Stokes investigates how a woman got shot with no evidence of a shooter anywhere near. The answer is that there was an idiot who had a gun and made a shooting range in his backyard, which is in the suburbs and within city limits, a big-time city ordinance no-no. A stray bullet went into the air and struck the woman on the decline. When they arrest him, he protests it was an accident and Stokes contemptuously responds, "Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, genius!"
    • In another episode, a hunter fails to follow one of the most important rules of shooting things—always positively identify your target. So, when a drunken guy stumbles out of a Furry convention wearing a raccoon suit and wanders out into the desert, the hunter takes him down, thinking the victim was a coyote. The episode is vague on whether or not he'll get prosecuted for it, although it leans towards "no" since it was pretty dark at the time.
    • Averted in the episode "Better Off Dead", when Greg is sharply scolded by Bobby Dawson, the lab's ballistic expert, for failing to properly clear a gun gathered in evidence. There was a bullet left in the chamber because Greg had mistakenly assumed that all the guns recovered from a broken gunshop counter were unloaded, as required by law. Both Greg and Sara look obviously rattled at this clear breach of gun handling protocol, and no-one in the lab relaxes until Bobby Dawson verifies for himself that the gun is in fact, now properly unloaded.
    • CSI New York had a man accidentally kill another with a blank round. According to the evidence, the suspect fired the gun at point-blank range (singeing the victim's clothes) and it was the discharge, despite the lack of a projectile, that tore a hole in the other man's torso.
    • Yet another example when a suspect in the murder of an FBI agent accidentally shoots himself in the head in the middle of a crowded arena while trying to show everyone that the gun he had taken from Brass wasn't even loaded. He thought it wasn't loaded because the FBI agent he had killed was really just a crazy guy pretending to be an agent running around with an empty gun, plus he was delirious and on a drip at the time for 'ripping an entire necrotic bicep out of his arm'.
  • Firefly's characters routinely break all of the basic rules constantly, yet no one gets accidentally shot—except for Kaylee during the pilot, when she startles Dobson. Of course, that wasn't an accident except insofar as he didn't intend to shoot Kaylee specifically. It was a failure to positively ID the target before he fired—he shot with intent to kill, he just wasn't aware what or who he was shooting until he'd pulled the trigger.
    • The only other accidental shooting is in "Safe" when Book gets caught in a crossfire between Serenity's crew, the guys they're selling the cattle to, and the lawmen coming to arrest them. Again, this is only an accident in the sense that they didn't mean to shoot Book specifically.
  • The District when a woman gets shot with no one nearby. Turns out some punk got a hold of a WW 2 gun and test-fired it by shooting down the apparently-empty street.
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge: Alan Partridge once accidentally shot an obnoxious food critic in the heart with an antique dueling musket on live television. It is this (coupled with his later punching of a BBC programming executive in the face with a turkey) that ended his TV career.
  • Cheers, where a jealous man comes into the bar threatening Frasier with a revolver. After the man is talked out of the shooting and the gun is taken from him, Sam puts it in his back pocket for storage. Afterward, he goes to sit down, and shoots himself in the butt. To be fair, though, none of the regulars had given any hints of having any firearms training.
  • The Wire. Any time Roland Pryzbylewski has a gun in his hand, Badness Ensues. He first shows up as a transfer from another unit after he shot his own squad car, and in the same episode proceeds to shoot a hole in the office wall. He later manages to pistol whip a boy, blinding him in one eye, and three seasons later, finally quits the force after he shoots an undercover cop. Becomes a major plot point in season 4. Kima is assigned to a murder of a State's witness in an alley. There's quite a bit of backroom scheming because it's a mayoral election year, so she under pressure from one side to solve the case quickly and from the other to bury it. It turns out, a pair of drunken knuckleheads two blocks away were shooting at beer bottles and hit the guy by accident.

Det Norris: So these idiots are shooting forties two blocks down, and now this Carcetti fuck gets to be mayor? What a town.

    • In season three, Omar's boyfriend Dante inadvertantly shoots crewmate Tosha in the head while fleeing for cover during a raid, because he was shooting blindly without making sure he knew where he was aiming.
  • Band of Brothers, episode "The Breaking Point". After hunting for a Luger as a souvenir, Cpl. Donald Hoobler finally finds one - only to accidentally fatally shoot himself in the leg with it. This is Truth in Television as the real Hoobler suffered the same fate.
    • The Luger does have a notoriously tricky safety though, at least according to the book. It makes for a dramatic moment and it helps reinforce that War Is Hell and that Anyone Can Die.
  • Oz. One of the inmates was sent to prison after brandishing a gun at school which went off, killing a girl on the floor above.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, two involving Time Travel and the not-gun-shaped Phaser. In "The City on the Edge of Forever", a 1930s bum gets hold of one and vaporizes himself playing with it. In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", Kirk is captured by Air Police in 1969, and cringes (with priceless facial expressions) as they fiddle with his weapon, toss it around, and several times almost press the trigger, conflicted between justifiable fear and the need to not let them know who he is or what they have.
  • Chuck has an inept criminal take the Buy More hostage, and at one point he confronts Casey and Sarah. Chuck manages to talk him down and convince him to put the safety of the gun back on, which the criminal admits he doesn't know how to do (never mind that the gun is a revolver). Chuck and the criminal then both start messing around with the gun trying to turn the safety on, and accidentally shoot Casey in the foot. Turns into Fridge Brilliance when the criminal turns out to actually be a Fulcrum agent, and probably shot Casey deliberately. In the third season episode "Chuck vs. the American Hero", Chuck demonstrates the problem with his relying on the Intersect's gun-handling subroutine: said subroutine was designed for users who, unlike Chuck, are already familiar enough with gun safety to avoid pointing their gun at people they're not currently killing.
  • Touched By an Angel has someone breaking just about all the rules—carelessly waving a loaded WW 2-era pistol around, pointing it straight at a friend, and then removing the magazine without clearing the chamber. After all that, how unlucky is it for said gun to get knocked off a desk, unintentionally fire, and shoot someone right in the heart?
  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit has Olivia telling a story about a fellow cop with asthma staying up for two days straight on a stakeout. After the stakeout ended, he went home and crashed. Later, he woke up because of an asthma attack, reached for his gun instead of his inhaler while half-asleep, and killed himself. Aside from apparently having a gun-shaped inhaler, it seems that the cop forgot to unload his gun when he came home.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 A Very Special Episode of the original uses this to kill off one of the regulars, in front of Bryan Austin Green.
  • Tales from the Crypt, episode "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today". A husband points his rifle at a random solicitor, and pulls the trigger while pointing it at his wife to prove to his wife the gun was unloaded. In the end he ends up trying to physically subdue his wife's body snatcher (a old witch traded bodies with her) while holding the gun, and ends up shooting his wife.
  • 1000 Ways to Die, There are two guys who have been friends since they were in elementary. They do everything together and are generally chummy towards each other, and even decide to live together as roommates in college. Unfortunately, in adulthood one of the two friends gained an addiction to cigarettes and constantly bothers the other for money so he can buy more, or if he has some spares to share them with him. Becoming tired of having to supply cigarettes for his friend, the annoyed friend loads some cigarettes into his shotgun and fires them directly into his roommate's face, and says, "Hey buddy want some cigarettes?" Who, being drunk at the time, didn't seem afraid of having a shotgun pointed at him and nods his head in approval at the idea of cigarettes. The cigarettes fly out of the shotgun at supersonic speed and penetrate the guy's skull. He simply wanted to hurt his friend, he didn't think cigarettes would penetrate flesh like bullets do. This just goes to show you that you never point a gun at something or someone you are not intending to kill or destroy, and that anything flying out of that said gun is going to be potentially lethal.
    • It also goes to show you that shotguns are magical machines that can propel anything jammed into their chambers to lethal force simply by pulling their enchanted triggers, needless of any sort of propulsive medium. Unless the dude was smoking REALLY volatile cigarettes.
      • For the record, the MythBusters tested this and the butts, when smoked and fired at POINT BLANK, will penetrate to the heart. At 7 feet they simply cause inconsequential flesh wounds.
      • Also for the record—the Darwin Awards site has the actual story and links to the original news articles. It was a muzzle-loader with a separate powder charge, not a shotgun.
        • Another episode featured a magician attempting a bullet-catching trick; when tapping the barrel of the gun with his wand, part of the wand's tip fell off and into the barrel, which was then propelled by the blank cartridge with lethal force through a major artery in his neck.
  • Narrowly subverted in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Common Ground", when during their escape Todd is at one point toying with his loaded gun while having it pointed right at the back of Sheppard's head.
  • Highway to Heaven episode The Torch: includes a group of Neo Nazis. Among them is Rolf (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Zach on Saved by the Bell). While handling an Uzi in the Neo Nazi lair, Rolf fires the weapon, hitting his father and another Neo Nazi, killing his father.
  • MacGyver: In a Flash Back during the "Blood Brothers" episode, MacGyver accidentally shoots and kills Jesse, a childhood friend.
  • Body of Proof: The killer in one episode accidentally shoots and kills his own daughter. He confronted both his daughter and her fiance in order to intimidate the man into leaving her alone. When the daughter attempts to reach for the gun, it goes off.
  • Family Matters: Discussed when Carl is working as a security guard on the set of some TV show, when the main actor (playing a cop) scratches his head with his (prop) gun. This makes Carl laugh and explain that no cop in their right mind would do that because the gun might go off.
  • Played with on How I Met Your Mother when Robin takes Marshall to the shooting range. She inadvertently points her gun at him while telling him not to tell her boyfriend (a pacifist) about her being a gun nut. While she seems nonchalant, the look on Marshall's face shows how terrified he is.
  • Engrenages: Forms the basis for an entire plot point in the third season, where during a visit to a drug dealer with an informant, Gilou, when faced with trouble, takes out his gun and fires it up at the ceiling. It hits someone. In the crotch.
  • Modern Family: Mitchell is pointing a skeet-shooting rifle at everyone in sight within seconds of getting it in his hands, and they all freak out, with his father advising him to try another activity.
  • Community: In the episode "Remedial Chaos Theory", Annie drops her purse, causing the pistol inside it to go off and shoot Pierce in the leg. He DIES.
  • Big Bang Theory: Leonard shoots himself in the foot when he takes Penny out to the gun range for a date and she kisses him while he has a gun in his hand.
  • An episode of Quincy that deconstructs Artistic License Gun Safety ends with a Gory Discretion Shot when a five-year-old shoots his sister, thinking that the revolver his father just got back from the police is a "space gun". His dad may as well be the poster boy for Failing Gun Safety Forever: he left said pistol fully loaded, safety off (if it even had one), on the floor of his closet.


  • "I Hung My Head" by Sting (later covered by Johnny Cash) features a young man pointing a rifle at someone to practice aiming. It doesn't end well.
  • The music video for Eighteen and Life by Skid Row features an example of this.

Newspaper Comics


  • Der Freischütz, and the rock opera version The Black Rider (which was written by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits, and William S. Burroughs), combine this trope with literal Diabolus Ex Machina, and the heroine gets shot on her wedding day. In Weber's version, the bullet gets deflected by the consecrated roses in her bridal wreath, though, and she's okay.
  • Assassins: Sarah Jane Moore is written to be played with no regard for the proper operation or storage of her .38 revolver. She accidentally discharges it no less than five times during the course of the show, once while it's still in her hand bag, narrowly missing Squeaky Fromme, once into the air when she's supposed to be clicking the hammer of an unloaded weapon in "The Gun Song", once when startled with her finger prematurely on the trigger, damaging Charles Guiteau's hearing in the process, and twice during two separate scene change blackouts, with the lights coming up on her scene the second time to reveal she's just accidentally shot her own dog.

Sarah Jane: Shit, I shot it!

  • La Forza Del Destino: In Act 1 of Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Don Alvaro is eloping with Leonora. Her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, interrupts the lovers in mid-elope and threatens the young man with a sword. Don Alvaro decides not to resist, and throws away his pistol... which goes off and kills the Marquis, who dies cursing them. Oops.

Video Games

  • Eternal Darkness somewhat invokes this trope during Maxamillion's chapter. If his Sanity Meter is very low he may do something unwise with his flintlock pistols, such as holding one under his arm while loading the other. The results are misfires leading to several gory death scenes. (Though, as normal for that game, all is not really as it seems.)
  • Hitman: Blood Money features this as an assassination method. One of the hits takes place in an opera house with a target being the lead actor. During rehearsals, the actor is "executed" with a prop pistol—47 can either replace it with a real one, or take the place of the executioner actor. In a bit of black comedy, the play will continue for a little while before anyone realizes that the actor has really been shot.
    • Bonus points here as closed-in environment of an opera house would be too dangerous for the prop gun's blanks in the first place.
    • And double bonus points for being darkly ironic—the scene being rehearsed is the final act of Tosca, which has Mario Cavaradossi gunned down by a firing squad who was issued guns with live ammunition instead of the blank firing ones that Scarpia promised Tosca in his namesake ultimatum.
  • Fallout 2 features a cruel variant—one of the ways to assassinate Orville Wright is to give one of his kids a loaded gun and tell them, "Why don't you wave this in your daddy's face and pull the trigger?"
  • Empire: Total War features the use of a Gentlemen agent which can steal technology or duel other gentlemen of rival factions. If ordered to duel another gentlemen a cinematic scene plays which shows many different outcomes. One of these outcomes has the two duelists march a few paces turn but not fire. Hilariously, one of them looks down the barrel of the gun then the gun promptly discharges in his face. He loses the duel by the way.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: one of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • This also happens in Mafia II, when Joe is in the bar and Vito has to come pick him up. The bartender goes to lock up the bar and Joe's gun hits the table, discharging and killing the bartender, getting a "What. The. FUCK." moment from Vito.
  • In a flashback of the first Ace Attorney game, a young Miles Edgeworth ends up throwing a loaded gun to break up a fight between his father and a bailiff, making him think he'd accidentally shot his father and killed him. He did shoot someone, just not his father.
  • Played for laughs when LEGO Star Wars spoofs the scene in A New Hope where Obi-Wan gives Luke his father's lightsaber. You know how in the movie, the blade comes within a couple of feet of skewering Obi-Wan? In the game, Obi-Wan dives out of the way and Luke beheads C-3PO.
    • There are also edits of the frame with Luke looking into the aperture of a partially-disassembled lightsaber very closely. Only with a beam going through his head edited in. [1] [2]

Web Comics

Elf: Will someone raise the house lights so San Asimov's finest can see what they're using for a backstop?

Web Original

  • Girlchan in Paradise: "It's out of bullets, anyway!" "Then that means I can do this!" (BANG)
  • The Onion: this article , an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shoots himself in the thigh wins praise from Strawman Politicals for having exercised his constitutional rights.
  • Collegehumor: In "Very-Mary Kate:Gun", Mary-Kate Olsen does this after holding her bodyguard at gun point. She drops the gun and kills her cat Comet.
  • Survival of the Fittest: Due to the amount of firearms in the game, this happens fairly often. One example was in v3, where Braunca Braunstein accidentally shoots herself in the face while looking at her gun and pointing the barrel at herself. Carol Burke of version 4 also does something similar to this, as she accidentally shoots Rizzo Vitoria in the leg with a shotgun, leaving Reiko Ishida to Mercy Kill him.
  • Gaia Online's 2010 Christmas event revolves around preventing Santa from making Too Dumb to Live type decisions regarding basic safety. One of the scenarios revolves around this, where he is shown with a gun, looking into the barrel to clean it. The player has to remove the bullets from the gun, give Santa proper gloves (instead of the oven mitts he had before), make him read a book on gun safety, and give him a proper tool to clean it with.
  • Skippys List has examples:

6. Not allowed to play “Pulp Fiction” with a suction-cup dart pistol and any officer.

Western Animation

  • Gargoyles. Elisa is at one point seriously injured when Broadway accidentally shoots her while playing with her gun. To be fair, Broadway is a 1,000-year-old gargoyle who had never handled a gun before... But Elisa, a NYPD detective, falls under this trope by leaving her sidearm, holster and gun belt unattended in another room from where she was (she admits later that she should have known better). Notably, she's much more careful for the rest of the series.
    • This event is a major part of both characters' development—after this incident, Broadway is a gun-phobic who destroys any gun he comes across on the nightly patrols (this does necessitate dragging them from the startled fingers of an assortment of startled criminals), and Elisa is always careful to lock up her gun, and presumably unload it when not on duty. Elisa spent the next few episodes on crutches while she was recovering from the gunshot, where most shows would have had her back to normal by the next episode. It really hammered home how incredibly dangerous guns can be.
  • Beavis and Butthead, episode "At the Movies". After the boys cause some destruction in the theater's parking lot, a police officer comes to arrest them. His gun gets caught in the holster, and while pulling it out he accidentally shoots himself in the foot, blowing off all his toes on that foot.
  • King of the Hill, episode "How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying": Bobby's NRA safety instructor explains that he used to run right out onto the rifle range whenever he hit the target, resulting in the loss of his thumb and eye. Later, when the instructor witnesses Bobby's innate shooting skill, he again runs out onto the range in excitement, holding the targets Bobby shot up for all the other men on the range to see.
    • In another, Dale, who by all rights should know better being the president of the local gun club, accidentally discharges his weapon. Should being the keyword. There's the small problem that Dale is a crazy idiot.
  • Duckman implies that this is how the titular character's father died at his son's hands:

Duckman: Did I ever tell you my dad's last words to me?
Cornfed Pig: Mmhmm. 'Careful son, I don't think the safety's on.'

Real Life

  • According to some instructorswarning: this starts with a quite unappetizing photo of the result, the most dangerous part of handgun usage in the long run is holstering. Probability of having shirt or draw string caught in the trigger guard or finger slip there leading to accidental/negligent discharge is small, but always there - unless the user actually watches the process, or manual safety is present, reliable and actually used. The placement only affects whether the barrel is pointed toward the user's butt, family jewels and femoral artery, parts of the leg you need to ever run again, or whoever happens to stand nearby. Since hip holsters are the most common, and Glocks are the most common pistols without manual safety (if something can move the trigger, it can move trigger safety too), it's known as "Glock Leg Syndrome".
    • Going by anecdotal evidence (both from press and internet), the second place is contested by quick draw (even with a single-action revolver) and attempts to disassemble/clean the weapon without removing chambered round (seem to be common to the point of being stereotypical police self-injury in USA).
    • Bad holsters make this worse. Those that require manipulations with the trigger finger have bad reputation as adding possibilities for the finger to move where it should not. Soft, not fitting ones simply don't protect the trigger enough - one guy shot his butt and car with a holstered gun.
    • Since carrying without a holster at all essentially stretches the dangerous moment for hours, it may be every bit as bad as its reputation.
  • This video. Ironically enough, it was during a gun safety presentation, and came right after he claimed to be the "only one in the room professional enough" to handle that gun, while he clearly had his finger on the trigger of a gun that does not have a manual safety. It wasn't a fatal accident, however; the man only shot himself in the foot, and it's also commonly believed that it had been a blank cartridge. But he will Never Live It Down.
  • Shockingly found in the US Marine Corps despite thorough training on weapons handling. The highly discouraged "Trust" game that some Marines started playing in Iraq involves pointing a weapon at the head of a fellow Marine and asking "Do you trust me?". One Marine was sadly killed by this reckless behavior that goes against their training. The guy that killed him got eight years.
    • A similar event occurred when two Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were playing quick draw with loaded sidearms. One ended up dead and the other got convicted on manslaughter charges.
  • Incidents of this nature have figured at least one Darwin Award.
  • Happens often in Libya, as former rebels coming home with their guns aren't careful enough. The random, full-auto firing in the air of cities doesn't help: Hospitals have hundreds of patients because of celebratory gunfire.
  • Actor Jon-Erik Hexum killed himself by demonstrating a gun filled with blanks by shooting himself in the head, unaware that at such close range, a blank round is just as deadly as a real bullet.
  • According to Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith in their 2011 biography Van Gogh: The Life, Vincent van Gogh's gunshot death was likely not a suicide as generally accepted, but an accidental homicide by two teenaged acquaintances of Van Gogh who had a malfunctioning gun.
  • Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, died during the filming of The Crow because a fake cartridge came apart in a revolver and was not found before loading in blanks.
  • Lawyer (and former Congressman) Clement Vallandigham was preparing to defend a client accused of murder by arguing that the deceased had, in fact, accidentally shot himself with his own gun. While conferring with the rest of the defense team, he demonstrated his theory by reenacting the actions of the deceased... with a gun he thought was unloaded. The reenactment was more realistic than intended; Vallandigham fatally shot himself. The client was acquitted.
  • Video taken during a wedding celebration in Chechnya. Drunken guest brings an automatic pistol, fools with it to show that it is not dangerous, and another guest ends up taking a bullet to the head. See it here.
  • His Excellency Don Felipe, the 13-year-old (at the time) grandson of King Juan Carlos I of Spain and fifth in line to the Spanish throne, accidentally shot himself in the foot in April 2012, to the amusement of the Spanish and world press.
  • Former US VP Dick Cheney's infamous hunting accident where he shot someone else in the face. Unusually noteworthy in that a gun safety error was made by both the shooter and the victim. VP Cheney: Shooting at something moving without realizing it was a person and not a bird, or poor target identification. The guy he shot: Walking into an area specifically designated as an "impact area" (that is, an area on a target range or elsewhere specifically blocked out as a no-go zone because it is on or behind targets that are expected to be fired upon in the near future), which had been blocked out specifically for the purpose of allowing hunters to shoot in that direction without having to spend enough time stopping and looking for fellow hunters first that they'd risk missing the birds.
  • The notorious incident where famous Hungarian singer Jimmy Zámbó accidentally shot himself in the head while drunk and fooling around with his gun during a New Year's celebration. He even removed the magazine to show it was safe - forgetting that it was semi-automatic and already had a bullet chambered.
    • A widespread (and quite amusing) urban legend says he was trying to kill the neighbor's rooster due to its crowing being annoying, explaining how the bullet got into the chamber in the first place.
  1. Instead of standard procedure, which is -- after conducting a thorough series of safety exercises -- to have them perform a very low-stress firing at fixed targets on the known distance range, with assistant instructors standing by to stop potential safety incidents before they start and nobody standing within several hundred meters of where the rounds are expected to be landing.
  2. One wonders why Marvin didn't freak out when he can easily see all of this
  3. The car didn't hit no motherfuckin' bump!