Not with the Safety On, You Won't

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Zeus: You call in that code right now or I'll blow your sick ass into the next world.
Simon Gruber: Well, if that's what you gotta do.
(click...click click...click)
Simon Gruber: (calmly takes gun, releases safety) You've got to take the safety catch off. (Shoots Zeus in the leg) See, that works.

Die Hard III

If guns are featured in a movie, and someone inexperienced takes to using one (the Damsel in Distress or similar character), there's a good chance of this phrase being uttered. There are three versions:

In the first case, the character being held up might use it as a ruse to try to wrong-foot his opponent. Usually in this instance the character at gunpoint is a veteran, his savvy attitude being contrasted to his inexperienced opponent. It is extremely rare for the opponent to call his bluff; instead he will usually tilt his gun and look down to check if the safety is on, letting the other person get the drop on him. Note that in this case the safety need not actually be on; all that's necessary is to trick the guy holding the gun into checking.

In the second, the person at gunpoint is generally a villain and the one holding the gun an inexperienced good guy; in this case, the villain will grab the gun after it fails to fire, mocking his opponent for their lack of expertise only afterward.

The third example is when a Magnificent Bastard is on the other end of the gun along with some other villain. Once the other guy is knocked out and the hero is securing him, he'll casually comment that you can't fire a gun with the safety on, and that 'next time' the hero should check first; thus showing that really he was just going along with it because it suited him and enhancing his Magnificent Bastardry.

Variations exist; it might be that the gun is recognisably jammed, is physically impossible to fire at the target for some reason, would kill both of them if fired, is not cocked, or even is not loaded. Note that in Real Life, any (competent) gun user or owner will leave the safety on until ready to fire, and especially make sure the safety is engaged if they are going to hand it to someone else. In addition, nearly all revolvers and many automatic pistols (Glock, Sig, HK and others) do not feature a safety catch, relying on internal mechanisms and a strong trigger pull.

In Real Life though, some of these would be hard to pull off. The person on the other end would have to have a keen eye and knowledge of the particular weapon to notice the position of the safety at a distance. If bluffing, he would have to be sure the person with the gun wouldn't check by pulling the trigger. Finally, most firearms which employ a manually disengaged safety are designed so the safety can be disengaged in a heartbeat by a swift movement of the thumb. Even an untrained shooter can flick it with their thumb while squeezing the trigger. This is an intentional feature of many assault rifles, shotguns, hunting rifles, and pistols, as soldiers, hunters, and policemen all have legitimate reasons for wanting to be able to carry a weapon on safe yet still be able to perform a "snap shot." The AK-47 and variants are a notable exception, as their very awkwardly placed selectors do make quickly disengaging the safety difficult, especially for right handed shooters.

When the safety has been deliberately left on in case the weapon gets stolen, the person stealing it may find It Works Better with Bullets.

The inverse sometimes shows up in movies where a gun is fired with the safety on, presumably to keep actors from death by blank. This annoys gun nuts; the appropriate special effects hide the phenomenon from other viewers.

Examples of Not with the Safety On, You Won't include:

Anime and Manga

  • Somewhat subverted or at least tongue in cheek referenced in Gundam Seed. Two characters are in a stand off with Athrun, an experienced soldier and ace pilot holding a knife and Cagalli, his temporary "prisoner", having snuck his gun away from him while he slept, which Athrun'd told her he'd kill her if she tried to do. The standoff breaks with Athrun charging with the knife just as Cagalli loses her nerve and throws away the gun because she doesn't want to shoot him, even to save herself. We hear a gunshot...and then the scene cuts back to the gun lying on the ground as Athrun angrily demands why she'd be stupid enough to throw a gun with the safety left off. Later referenced pretty much exactly in an exchange between Kira and Mu as they chase down Rau Le Creuset.
    • Also used by Rau himself when Flay Allster attempts to attack him with his own gun during their first formal conversation. He lectures her about how idiotic it would be to kill him while she's in the middle of a building filled with his men, then asks dryly if she even checked to see if the pistol was loaded at all.
    • Again uttered by Mu La Flaga when kira charges into the Mendel colony to help him face Rau. If you want to use that, you might want to remove the safety
      • It makes for a bit of Fridge Brilliance when you realize that Kira for the most part would never want to use a gun as he probably can't shoot someone without accidentally killing them. Every shot he fired with it ends up being wasted because he had convinced himself that killing is wrong... in a war.
  • Done in the Battle Royale manga, in a flashback: a guy holds a revolver to Shogo's girlfriend's head, and demands that Shogo drop his gun or else he will shoot her. Shogo casually says, "You're not going to shoot her -- the safety's on," causing the other guy to check to see if that's true, and Shogo uses the opening to shoot the guy in the face. He then remarks: "Idiot. Revolvers don't have safety catches."
  • A very well done example in the Venus Wars movie. A reporter gets a chance to interview the Big Bad, struggles with her sense of journalistic ethics, and after much angst works up the courage to conduct the interview then point a weapon in his face. The Big Bad has a look of fear and horror cross his face, then bemusement when he realizes she left the safety on.
  • In Orguss 02, used by the series' Magnificent Bastard, Manning, who notes as he's being tied up by the series' naive hero Lean that 'you can't fire that gun without a bullet in the chamber. Next time, pull the bolt first.' Lean himself provides an inversion, realising the Derringer his companion Naturuma has repeatedly pointed at him isn't loaded, reminding her that a professional soldier might recognise this immediately.
  • In Hentai anime / manga Kamyla, the main character escapes from confinement because she sees the mook's gun having safety on, and beat him up.
  • Eureka Seven featured Holland using this trick and then punching away the gun.
  • An interesting variant of this crossing with It Works Better with Bullets appears in Detective Conan Fake Shinichi is holding the rest of the cast at gun point when Shinichi calmly points out the gun is empty, dropping the bullets from his hands. Fake shinichi checks and discovers its a lie, but its too late as it already gave Shinichi time to disarm him.
    • Jodie successfully puts the gun's safety lever on during an episode about a bus-jacking. The other guy found out too late.


Comic Books

  • In Batman: No Man's Land, in an interlude called "The punk and the nomad", a punk threatens to shoot a guy for batteries. But the nomad points out that there's no way the gun's loaded, not because he knows, but because if the punk had a bullet, it would be worth more than the batteries. The nomad walks away unharmed.
  • Done hilariously in an old G.I. Joe comic, where Snake Eyes' old master, pretending to be a simple chef, deals with an attempted robbery by a young teenager. First he points out that the safety is on in the boy's gun, and when the boy takes it off, he grabs the gun's slide, pops out the bullet from the chamber, drops the clip off, and then offers to buy the empty gun from him for $100, dropping it in a crate full of empty pistols!


Film

  • A particularly egregious example is in Die Hard 3. Hero John McClane (Bruce Willis) gives his reluctant ally Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) a submachine gun lifted from a fallen mook to defend himself as they search the bad guys' boat, even giving him a short primer on how to use the gun. Zeus later comes upon Big Bad Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) and holds him at gunpoint; Simon takes the gun away, casually notes (of course) he's got the safety on, flips off the safety and shoots him.
  • In the beginning of The Fifth Element, Korben is confronted by a crazed robber with a rather nasty-looking gun. Korben informs him that the safety's on, but is even helpful enough to point it out to him and give him a chance to flip the switch. Cue the subversion, as the poor dumb criminal has just deactivated the gun, and Corben pulls his own weapon on him and takes it.
    • It helps that the guy is obviously a drug addict in desperate need of a fix. His hands were visibly shaking, as Korben immediately noticed.
  • Possible subversion in Run Lola Run: Lola is threatening a police officer with a gun. The cop seems to be strangely unafraid of her, until her boyfriend informs her that the safety is on, and tells her how to disable it. In a later scene in the movie, Lola steals a gun from a security guard and immediately flicks off the safety catch before firing it, despite the former scene having taken place in an alternate timeline.
    • There is probably some degree of retained memory though, as later in the movie the characters start experiencing a bit of déja vu.
  • In the James Bond movie Live and Let Die rookie agent Rosie Carver finds a hidden arsenal in Quarrel Junior's boat and confronts him with a revolver, only to be told she's left the safety catch on. This is a little odd, since while revolvers can have safeties, most don't have a catch to operate them.
    • Type 2 in Dr. No, when a hitman tries to shoot Bond with an empty gun. "That's a Smith and Wesson. And you've had your six."
  • The Rock: Just after Goodspeed and Mason's Navy SEAL teammates are all drawn into a trap and killed, Goodspeed tries to stop Mason from leaving by pulling his pistol on him. Mason replies that Goodspeed doesn't have what it takes to kill him, adding "Besides, the safety's on" before grabbing the gun away.
  • Shoot Em Up features this trope when, at the beginning of the movie, the hero, Mr. Smith holds the villain, Mr. Hertz at gunpoint with his own gun. Hertz appears quite jolly, even reciting a limerick, until Smith tries to shoot him, only to find that the gun has a fingerprint sensor to prevent anyone but the owner from discharging it. Later, it is inverted, when Smith corners Hertz in a brothel, who chuckles again as Smith pulls out a gun, the freezes in horror as Smith pulls out the previous owner's hand, and places the thumb on the sensor to authorize the gun. Hertz is saved by his bulletproof vest.
  • This happens to One-Round, the Dumb Muscle member of the gang in the 1955 version of The Ladykillers.
  • Early in the John Woo Broken Arrow, Terry Carmichael's handgun passes between herself and Riley Hale twice courtesy of this trope. Hale manages to wrest the gun from Terry when she tries to hold him at gunpoint, but when he attempts to order her at gunpoint, she replies that she never keeps it loaded... which gives him pause long enough for her to get the weapon back from him. When he protests that she said it wasn't loaded, she fires off a warning shot to prove that she was lying.
    • Proving that however hot a bomber jock he is, Hale is not a "gun guy". When a revolver is pointed at you, it's easy to tell if it's loaded or not - just look at the little holes in the front of the cylinder. If each one has a bullet looking back out at you, you can safely assume the thing will go bang if the trigger is pulled. (For people who actually know firearms, this scene is a guaranteed groan-inducer.)
      • To be fair, that would require a little more forethought than he probably had a chance for at the time while being arrested by a park ranger—he had no reason to DOUBT that the gun was loaded until he had it in his hand.
  • Terminator Salvation - Blair's gun gets stolen, and when somebody tries to use it against her she tells him. "You forgot to chamber a round." Whether it was true or not didn't matter because it bought her enough time to get the jump on him.
  • When Experience pulls the rifle on Tucker in Black Sheep, Tucker points out the safety is on, and after a few minutes of directions to the safety, she gives tucker the gun to turn the safety off. As he hands it back to her, He yanks it back with the quick response: "Yeah, right."
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack has a little bit of trouble plugging a mook until his partner reminds him to take off the safety...
  • A cool variation in Damnatus, where an enemy mook gets a hit in on tech-priest Oktavian and uses the opening to pull a gun. The gun fails to fire. A now-recovered Oktavian explains "Machine empathy..." and whacks the mook with his power axe.
  • Played with in Fierce Creatures, first successfully to disarm a gunman then, while explaining to someone that the safety was on all the time it ventures into I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
  • There's a rather strange example in District 9, where mercenaries are conducting a raid on a shanty. From a gun-mounted view of an assault rifle, it is clearly visible that the selector is set on safe when the mercenary is taking point on a raid.
    • Perfectly justified. No soldier worth their uniform would take the safety off until the last moment. Waving around an assault rifle in all the exitement with the safety off is a recipe for disaster even in the hands of a trained professional.
  • Non-gun variant in Crocodile Dundee: The heroine is about to take a photo of one of the locals, and he says, "Oh no, you can't take my picture." She replies, "Do you think it will steal your soul?" He answers, "No, you have the lens cap on."
    • Seen again in Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. At the very end of the movie, Polly Perkins points her camera(which has only one shot left) at Sky Captain and shoots. He just looks at her and says, "Lens cap."
  • Delivered straight in Strange Days, when Mace tricks a thug pointing a gun at her by muttering "Safety's on." He blinks. She punches.
    • Actually... she adds insult to injury by disarming him and then Pistol-Whipping him with his own weapon.
  • Perhaps the ultimate example is the Lawgiver 2 in Judge Dredd, which electrocutes any non-Judge who tries to fire it. It's also a subversion, as the one person who attempts to lampshade this gets shot - turns out the man he's addressing is a Judge.
  • Black Sheep has an example where a woman who was very anti-gun points a rifle at the other two protagonists, threatening to shoot. One of them points out that the safety is on, then when she can't fix it, he takes the gun, sets the safety to on, then gives back the gun. Although he then pulls back and keeps it.
  • Snatch has a variation, when Bullet-tooth Tony points out that the guns being wielded by his would-be attackers have the word 'replica' written on them, while his has the words 'Desert Eagle'.
  • Inverted in Star Trek: First Contact. Picard is disarmed by a 21st Century native who flips out at him and admits that while she doesn't know how a phaser works, she'll start pushing buttons if Picard doesn't do as she says. Picard calmly does as she wants, and once he finally gains her trust and is handed the phaser back, Picard points out that the phaser was set to maximum and would have vaporized him if it had gone off.
  • In Tucker and Dale Versus Evil, the sheriff suffers a fatal accident in Tucker and Dale's cabin. One of the panicking college kids takes the sheriff's gun and tries to kill Tucker and Dale, but fails thanks to the safety. Dale helpfully points this out to him while Tucker gives him a look that just screams "What the hell is wrong with you". Fortunately for Tucker and Dale the kid points the gun at his own face while trying to disable the safety, with predictable results.
  • Billy pulls this on Gale in the finale of Scream; she steals his gun as he holds the Final Girl hostage, and proceeds to run through a "the good guys win and the news reporter gets the scoop" scenario, when he stops to inform her that he knows something she doesn't:

"The safety's on!"

after shooting Billy "The safety wasn't on that time, you bastard."


Literature

  • In the Star Wars Extended Universe book Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina, Momaw Nadon lures an Imperial captain into an alley and threatens to kill him. The captain laughs ruthlessly and says, "You can't kill me with a blaster set to Stun." Momaw knows he set the blaster to Kill, but fears he may have knocked the setting aside, and looks. Of course, it is set on Kill, but he has lost his chance, and the captain shoots him. (Luckily, his blaster is set on Stun.)
    • Of course that begs the question of why he didn't just threaten to stun the captain and then kill him.
  • Ice Station uses a type 2. Shane Schofield gives his ally James Renshaw a pistol, who then uses it to hold up Barnaby. Barnaby just laughs and pulls out his own gun because Renshaw didn't chamber a round. Renshaw decided to run before he was shot.
  • At The Climax of the Tom Clancy Ryanverse novel Patriot Games, after the Big Bad is taken into custody, one of the Marines that joined Ryan on the would-be escape ship points out that if John had really wanted to kill the terrorist, he'd have had the safety off. As a part of the "Green Machine" legacy himself, Ryan would be more than familiar with the safety of the pistol he was holding.
  • In Artemis Fowl Book 3, Juliet disarms a hitman's pistol without him realizing it. After he threatens her with the useless weapon, she taunts him with the slide she removed from the weapon, then knocks him unconcious.
  • An amusing variant appears in Making Money when Moist tracks down escaped forger Owlswick Jenkins in his workshop. Terrified of going back to prison, Jenkins threatens to commit suicide by eating a tube of highly toxic paint, but Moist snatches it out of his mouth when he tries.

Moist: Just as I thought. You forgot to take the cap off. It's the kind of mistake amateurs always make!

    • Inverted in Men At Arms; When Detritus first hefts up the siegebow later known as the Piecemaker to threaten an armourer, Corporal Nobbs expresses (possibly insincere) hope that the safety catch is on, and that the armorer has properly maintained it as it was known to succumb readily to metal fatigue. Detritus's reply: "What are a safety catch?" (By Night Watch, Vimes has taught Detritus that "When Mister Safety Catch Is Not On, Mister Crossbow Is Not Your Friend".)
  • In one of the stories making up Joe Haldeman's All My Sins Remembered, agent Otto McGavin confronts a bureaucrat who pulls a blaster on him. They're technically on the same side, so McGavin snarls something along the lines of, "Put that stupid thing away before you electrocute yourself. You've got the selector on 'recharge.'" The bureaucrat looks down at the gun (if I remember right, it didn't even have a 'recharge' setting), and McGavin takes it away from him.


Live Action TV

  • Appears back in 1966 in the The Wild Wild West episode "Night of the Deadly Bubble", where the female professor thinks West is an intruder, but West knows she won't shoot him because the safety's on.
  • Not really a gun, but in Doctor Who The Master scuppers a plan to hold him at laser-screwdriver-point by setting it so it only works for him. He is then able to steal it back and nick the protagonist's mother with it.
    • And played straight on the Doctor's end as he went up against the Big Bad in the finale issue of IDW's The Forgotten miniseries.
  • In the Due South episode "Free Willie":

Fraser: No you won't. You're going to hand me that gun. You're going to return that purse and you're going to apologize to that lady.
Willie: Why? I got the gun.
Fraser: Cause you don't want to hurt anyone, and because if you don't, you might end up hurting yourself.
Willie: (reluctantly hands him the gun) Well you know you're lucky cop. 'Cause I coulda shot you right through the heart.
Fraser: I don't think so, because that would require knowing how to take off the safety.

  • Chuck: Chuck is supposed to get Sarah out of a locked freezer by shooting out the lock, but the gun doesn't work. Then Sarah tells him to take the safety off.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael tells a man pointing a gun at him, "By the way, Vince, you're gonna have a hard time blowing my brains out with the safety on." When Vince looks at the gun to check, Michael wrestles the gun away from him, shooting Vince before saying: "What do you know, the safety was off! My mistake."
    • A similar occasion occurs later on in the series, except instead Michael notes that the contact, Seymour was using hollowpoints. Seymour expresses surpise that Michael could tell just by looking at it, allowing Michael an opportunity to wrestle the gun away again. Seymour acknowledges that Michael is indeed a Badass. Then again, Seymour's an idiot.
    • And again, with a shotgun, when he points out the gun is loaded with birdshot, which at the range to the target would probably just bruise hi-*grabs gun*
    • And yet again, when Michael has two guns pointed at him, he manages to convince the owners to put them down, before commenting that that week's big bad's Dragon had the safety on on his gun.
  • In F/X: the series, when a former friend turned foe is handed a gun and told to watch the good guys, Rollie promptly beats the crap out of him as soon as the opportunity arises, pointing out that "Real gunmen use the safety you moron."
  • From Leverage:
    • This happens in the pilot, "The Nigerian Job":

Nathan finds Hardison holding Eliot at gunpoint
Eliot: Did you do it? You're the only one that's ever played both sides.
Nathan: Yeah, and you seem pretty relaxed for a guy with a gun pointed at him.
Eliot: Safety's on.
Hardison: Like I'm gonna fall for that.
Nathan: No, no, actually he's right. The safety is on.
Hardison looks down to check, and Nathan grabs the gun.

    • Similarly, in "The Girls' Night Out Job", Sophie tells a thug pointing a gun at her that the safety is on. While he's checking the gun, Tara comes up behind him and breaks a vase over his head, commenting that the safety was off. "Not to a grifter."
  • In the first season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The King of Knaves Affair" Napoleon Solo (under cover) takes advantage of a failure to check the safety to disarm a woman accosting him in his hotel room.

Ernestine Pepper: Mr. Smith, the first shot goes into the floor, the second goes into your head.
Napoleon Solo [slowly walking towards Pepper]: Alright then, better shoot and get it over with. [Pepper fumbles with the pistol, which does not fire. Solo disarms her] You see, the safety catch is on; it limits the range of the weapon considerably.

  • The captain pulls this on Ken in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Fugitive Alien. It's justified, Ken's from an alien race that uses lasers instead of bullets.
    • Although laser weapons would need safeties for the same reason conventional firearms have them.
    • The same applies to Stan in an episode of Lexx.
  • In an episode of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Centurions have boarded the ship. Billy is about to help a Marine flank two that are fighting Lee, Jammer and two other Marines... but not before Dualla reminds him to remove the safety. Note that the safety was on in the first place because Dee told him to use it before putting the gun in his pants.
  • Castle: The murderer is cornered by Beckett while holding Castle hostage at gunpoint. After uncovering the murderer's motive, Castle knocks him down and wrests the gun from him. Beckett tells him he could have been killed, and Castle replies that the safety was on the whole time.

Beckett: Y'know, you could've told me.
Castle: Where's the fun in that?

  • Used in The Sarah Connor Chronicles season two episode "The Good Wound". Reese points this out to someone holding a gun on him, and it distracts them long enough for him to draw his own (although not long enough for him to shoot).
  • Subverted on Lost: while playing inside woman in a bank robbery, Kate pretends not to know the safety is on, and then how to take it off. Another variant is Rousseau removing the firing pin from Robert's rifle, which has the bonus of letting her find out if he was really going to shoot her (he was.)
  • In the second episode of The Walking Dead, Andrea threatens to shoot Rick for bringing a hoarde of "walkers" to their location. Later, he advises her to take the safety off next time, and even gives her a quick lesson in handling a gun.
  • An interesting subversion happens in an episode of 21 Jump Street. Hanson, posing a student, is being threatened by another student (named Ronnie) with a gun. He is saying things such as, "you could end up dead". The gun is cocked and incredibly close to Hanson's face. After the student is satisfied and begins walking away, the following exchange takes place:

Hanson: The safety's on the left, man. You ought to take it off if you want to threaten somebody.
Ronnie: The safety don't work, man. Never did.

  • Happens in an episode of Quantum Leap. Sam is being held hostage by a woman he's been charged to protect (although, the person he's leaped into is really in cahoots with the bad guy, and the woman has just found out). Subverted in that it is Al who tells Sam that the safety is on. Since he is a hologram and the woman can't see him, he can examine the gun closely and at length. Also, the woman checks by actually trying to fire the gun, which doesn't work, and then throws the gun at Sam. Which is strange when you think about it because that basically meant she gave a man who she thinks wants to kill her a loaded gun.
  • A variation happened in one episode of Adam-12. Malloy chases a guy armed with a shotgun over a hill, only to find the shotgun leveled at him. Then the guy gives up. Turned out he left the safety on and pulled the trigger so hard it broke.
  • The reason Stella wasn't shot by Frankie in CSI: NY 'All Access'. Frankie didn't know enough about guns to take the safety off.


Video Games

  • Played straight twice in the Metal Gear Solid series; in 1 when Snake meets Meryl he tells her she doesn't have what it takes to shoot him, ending with "You haven't even taken the safety off, rookie." [1]
    • Which does not really make sense, as assault rifles aside from an AK-47 variant have the selector switch located where it can be deactivated in no time, thus allowing a soldier to carry it on safe yet still take a snap shot.
    • In 4, he snatches Johnny Sasaki's gun away after almost exactly the same lines after the less experienced soldier visually inspects his XM8. Since the XM8 was designed to evoke muscle memory from years of training with the M16 family, and it's almost impossible to pass even rudimentary military training without being able to tell the safety's position by feel, this succeeds in making Johnny look like an absolute moron.
    • Naked Snake does this to Ocelot twice in the third game; the first time, his Makarov jams because he's tried to load it improperly, and the second time, because he's used to pistols with bigger magazines, he doesn't realise that his new Single Action Army runs out after six shots.
    • Hideo Kojima, the main man behind all the MGS games, has never shied away from a great deal of Artistic License when it comes to all things military. Each and every one of these scenes would cause a soldier to go down as the biggest moron in his unit's history, even if he were a private. It may work in the narrative of the series, but gun-savvy players can't help thinking that Ocelot, Meryl, Johnny, and even Snake are outright ignorant about tools they supposedly use daily.
  • The mugger who keeps pestering you in Deja Vu repeatedly forgets to take the safety off, meaning you can score a punch to the nose and make him scurry off. The first few times, anyway...
    • This is particularly strange, because the mugger in Deja Vu is clearly threatening you with a revolver, which would lack a safety.
  • An inversion happens in the original Max Payne, when Max runs into Mona Sax, her signature Desert Eagle aimed point-blank into his face. He returns the favor with his own Beretta, uttering: "Your safety's off, Evil Twin. You could hurt somebody with that gun of yours."
  • Subverted in Brass Restoration: Ryo invokes this against the bookstore owner, who then fires without hesitation. Turns out that that was exactly what Ryo was expecting—the question about the safety was to provoke him into firing. "...You can avoid a bullet if you know when it's fired."


Web Comics

  • Subverted in Schlock Mercenary, during the Tough's first encounter with Doyt Gyo and Haban, where their weapons failed to work. When Kevyn points out that all Haban did was use field-effectors to jam the safeties on all the guns, Tagon curtly points out that their mil-spec weapons didn't have safeties. "Oh. Well, they do now." "That's not subtle, that's showing off!"


Western Animation

  • The Monarch of The Venture Bros is once shown telling an anecdote about when Captain Sunshine, a superhero, had a gun to his face, but the Monarch noticed he didn't touch the safety. The Monarch then claimed he was Immune to Bullets, and when the gun didn't do anything, the Captain Sunshine ran away and has thought he was invulnerable ever since.
    • Three seasons later, Captain Sunshine appears on the show, still believing the Monarch is invulnerable.
  • An episode of Men in Black: The Series had a variation; J grabs an alien weapon he's unfamiliar with and points what he thinks is the business end at his attacker. The alien identifies the gun and informs him that he's pointing it the wrong way; J assumes the alien is trying to bluff him and fires anyway. Sure enough, a beam shoots out of what appeared to be the scope and just misses J's head, and the alien smugly comments that he was just trying to help.


Real Life

  • Massad Ayoob wrote in his eponymous column for American Handgunner of a Florida cab driver whose life was saved by this trope. The driver picked up a fare who'd earlier stolen a Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Before long, attempted robbery turned into attempted murder after the driver refused to give up his wallet. What the robber didn't know was that the stolen pistol's safety was engaged (the owner left it on), which disconnected the trigger from the rest of the firing mechanism. Even more unfortunately for the robber, the driver was armed and well aware of how to disengage the safety of his own pistol. The robber did not survive.
  1. Due to this being on the PSX, the safety is barely visible on the gun's model, and is in the trigger guard rather than the usual position on the frame. The fact that Snake was familiar enough with the uncommon weapon to know where the safety was and was able to tell it was on in the instant or two he had a good look at it speaks to his skills as a soldier.