Shoot the Television

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"Aww, this show ain't no good..."


When a character is finished watching TV and has a Hair-Trigger Temper, is an Eccentric Millionaire who replaces electronic devices like normal people replace rolls of toilet paper, or just can't get the remote control working, he'll whip out a gun and shoot the television set.

In the event that a news item or message on television is the cause of the sudden anger or frustration that makes someone do this, the trope may be a slight variant on Shoot the Messenger. Other times, it may just be a sign that someone is so wealthy that they can afford to live in a way that involves wasting expensive home appliances in this manner.

In Video Games, television screens and monitors occasionally appear as an interactive, breakable object which the player character can destroy, especially when a villain character appears on these to taunt the player.

The Trope Codifier is Elvis Presley, who was known for doing this at least once, possibly many times. Several stories and explanations of Elvis doing this exist, some less true than others. He's rumored to have kept a basement full of spare TV's so he would always have a fresh set handy after destroying another one. One television set shot by Elvis is on public display at Graceland.

Compare: Agitated Item Stomping, Ring Ring CRUNCH, and Cutting the Electronic Leash.

Sometimes coincides with Computer Equals Monitor or Screens Are Cameras, in the event that the destroyed TV screen is part of a larger system.

Not to be confused with Smash TV.

Examples of Shoot the Television include:


Comics[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Gorsky and Butch, a politician appears on a TV screen in a pub. Someone calls for it to be turned off, causing one of the patrons to throw a shoe at the TV, smashing the screen.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Tim Burton's Batman movie, The Joker does this twice. The first is when he takes a boxing glove gun to the TV for mention of Batman in connection to an assassination that Joker pulled off on one of Grissom's underbosses, demanding to know, "What kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press?!" The second time, Joker shoots the television screen with a real gun after learning on the news that his poisoning scheme involving beauty products has been foiled by the Batman.
  • Lois Einhorn from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective reveals herself as Ray Finkle when commentary during the Super Bowl halftime show on the "Kick Heard Round The World" that ruined Finkle's career pushes her over the edge:

Lois Einhorn: THE LACES WERE IN! THEY WERE IN! [shoots the screen]

  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder is introduced watching a wall of TV screens. When April appears on the news and indicates that she knows too much about the Foot Clan, Shredder throws a knife at her face on the TV screen.
  • In The Muppets, Tex Richman finishes a round of fencing and then sees on the news that the Muppets are raising the money to buy their theater back. He throws his fencing blade at the TV in response.
  • In Speed 2: Cruise Control, Alex shoots at some large screens displaying the villain John Geiger.

Literature[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The 1979 made-for-television biopic about Elvis Presley titled The King, starring Kurt Russell as Elvis, at one point depicts Elvis shooting his TV after catching a news report which claims he isn't as popular as he once was.
  • In Johnny Bago, Elvis Lives in a trailer park in the spot next to Johnny's; when Johnny goes over to complain about the noise from the TV, Elvis shoots it. Johnny decides not to say anything about the barking dog.
  • Sammy Jaye did it in a sketch on Good News World. After installing a digital TV and discovering the programs are just as crap as regular television, he shoots the set (in a callback to an earlier joke about Elvis) to demonstrate the only power the average viewer has over television.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Bruce Springsteen's song "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" is about a man who, after his investments in television, cable, satellite dishes, and home entertainment fail to bring him happiness, takes out his frustration by shooting the television set. The lyrics reference Elvis in this regard.

So I bought a .44 magnum, it was solid steel cast,
And in the blessed name of Elvis, well, I just let it blast.

    • This visual is also present in the song's Music Video.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • There was a Bloom County strip which featured a man shooting his TV.

"Vanna White! Got her in mid-spin!"

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The level "Charlie Don't Surf" in the first installment of the Modern Warfare franchise has an achievement called "Your Show Sucks" for shooting or otherwise destroying all the televisions showing Al-Asad's speech.
  • In the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games, Batman can throw batarangs at most TV monitors which the games' villains appear on, cracking the screens.
  • Jim Raynor does this in the opening cutscenes of StarCraft II, when Emperor Mengsk refers to him as "a clear and present threat" to the Dominion during a news conference interview. He later gets a note from the owner billing him for the damages, and in another bar, the TV has a note on it that says, "Do not shoot screen!"
  • Late in Portal 2, the player can use the portal gun and the in-game momentum mechanics to hurl objects (or oneself) at monitors on which Wheatley appears. Destroying them all earns the player an achievement/trophy.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, an NPC in Sector 7 mentions that Barret did this using his gun-arm with an outdoor television monitor when President Shinra came on making an announcement. This did not win him any fans, since the only other functional television in the area is in AVALANCHE headquarters.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Simpsons:
    • One episode sees Bart and Lisa write a script for an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon that ends with Scratchy's head (now just a skull) going through a ceiling and into Elvis Presley's television set. Elvis promptly produces a revolver and shoots Scratchy's skull through the TV.
    • The trope is inverted in the episode "The Cartridge Family", where Homer uses the new revolver he bought to turn the TV on. Hilariously, the image that comes on the screen when it does turn on is of a cowboy, having been shot, falling off a roof.
    • In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", Chief Wiggum, after he had been kicked out of The Be Sharps, becomes so upset while watching Johnny Carson that he begins wildly shooting the TV in a fit of rage. It then becomes apparent that Wiggum had accidentally left the remote control in his gun holster and got that and his gun confused for the other.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Millions" has the Joker shooting the Video Will in which his benefactor reveals most of the money is fake.
  • The Garfield and Friends episode "Renewed Terror" has Jon watching The Buddy Bears on TV, when the magazine subscription guy he's been trying to avoid all day interrupts the show, saying the price of the magazine Jon signed up for (to try to get rid of the guy) has been lowered to 40 cents an issue. Jon is so terrified he throws his shoe at the TV, effectively breaking it.
  • In WALL-E, while in an elevator, EVE shoots a screen after it shows the "Caution: Rouge Robots" image.

Real Life[edit | hide]