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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Danny: Have you ever fired your gun in the air and gone, "AHHHHH!"?

Nicholas: No, I have never fired my gun in the air and gone, "AHHHHH!"!
There are a lot of reasons to own a gun! Killing somebody! Killing a lot of people! Killing the same guy over and over again! Killing yourself! Or, in Iraq, a birthday! "Happy LULULULU to you! Happy LULULULU to you! Happy LULULULU, dear Achmed! Happy LULULULU to you!" *begins firing in the air, causing the ceiling to crumble*

The villains ride off into the distance after terrorising the locals. As they do, they fire off their revolvers into the air. Can also happen as they approach.

This activity is still around, except now the shooters use automatic rifles and stand still (or ride on the back of a Toyota Hilux). Real-life stock footage of Muslim extremists and South American/African revolutionaries, or generally happy people doing just this will often show up in news stories (for example after the capture of Saddam Hussein).

An increasingly common gag is to have the character waste most or all of their ammo in a manic fit of in air firing.

Remember: what goes up, must come down. Thus far, few people have ever been shown being injured by a stray bullet from this display, which could impact the ground or injure/kill someone at about 200 MPH a fair distance away.(The Myth Busters have investigated the inherent possibilities, though...)

As usual, The Other Wiki has more details than you could ever reasonably ask.

Can overlap with Shouting Shooter. Compare Stab the Sky, A-Team Firing.

Examples of Firing in the Air a Lot include:

Anime and Manga


  • As the quote above would indicate, Hot Fuzz lampshades the use of this by a single character (as a reference to Point Break), then later in the film directly parodies it.
  • Westerns in general. Banditos seem particularly fond of doing this.
  • The Mexican had a bullet from one of these parties come down and kill someone, leaving the lead in a bit of a predicament.
  • At the end of Jarhead, after not getting to use their guns once for the entire movie, every single character begins firing their weapons into the air when they hear that they are going back home.
  • Happens in the 2008 Iron Man movie. The doctor that we get introduced to picks up an assault rifle and runs around shooting the ceiling (and not the baddies) with it.
  • A fun scene, from The Three Amigos!: the Amigos themselves are doing this, riding around the banditos and firing their (blank-loaded) revolvers in the air. The bad guys are amused, and fire one round. Straight into Steve Martin.
    • And how not to fire in the air: later in the film, they are instructed to fire in the air once each to summon a spirit. Lucky Day and Ned Nederlander both fire into the air. Dusty Bottoms's shot is more horizontal. Straight into the Invisible Swordsman they were summoning.
  • Also subverted in Big Trouble in Little China; right before the big battle scene, Jack fires in the air repeatedly, and is knocked out by falling debris.
  • Zombieland. Tallahassee is so exuberant at finding a bag full of illicit auto weapons (after his own lever-action has been stolen) he fires a Heckler & Koch MP7 in the air.
  • The 1989 Batman had some of the Joker's goons firing into the air during a chase for no particular reason.
  • A Turkish comedy film, "Kahpe Bizans" (not sure what the English name is) lampshaded this. The film occurs around medieval times, before gunpowder weapons were common. So how do the Turkish tribesmen celebrate their victory at the end of the movie? By shooting flaming arrows in the air. Extra points for the bows making sounds of gunfire when they are used.
    • Of course this trope is quite well known in Turkey, although its been much better in recent years thanks to intense campaigning.
  • John McClane does this in Die Hard in order to get the civilians off the roof of the building.


  • The main character of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Deadeye Dick commits an accidental manslaughter as a child by firing a gun in the air and killing someone miles away, scarring him for life and providing the novel its title.
  • In Cryptonomicon, Company 2702 does this with a heavy machine gun to kill Italian troops that are pinned down, but outside of line of sight due to a slight hill. They even do the math to figure out what angle to aim it at, and how long they'll have to do it to saturate the target area with no fewer than one bullet per square foot.
  • Averted in the After the End novel Deathlands: Pilgrimage to Hell by Jack Adrian. One character remembers half the town coming out to give a well-armed (and ill-fated) war party a good send-off, with the men "waving their pieces above their heads, itching to fire off a few shots to complete the celebration but not daring to because ammo was ammo then and you didn't waste a single round of it."
  • Occurs in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, with fatal consequences; though from the gun exploding, and not any falling bullets.

Live Action TV

  • CSI: In one a man killed a woman miles away by discharging his revolver into the air. When the man says that it was an accident, the CSI notes "Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, Genius!" By the way, this was based on a real case in 1948.
  • Parodied in Arrested Development, where every time someone fires into the air, it hits a person or animal.
  • Hal and Otto do this in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, and Otto manages to get hit in the rear as the bullets come back down.
  • One old visual gag from the Chilean humor show Japening con Ja has a sniper practising his shots, accidentally shooting a plane down (the video is obviously taken from the news or a movie) and then having the police after him.
  • A very early episode (#3, in fact) of Stargate SG-1 has SG1 trade a handgun for Carter's freedom from a barbaric chieftain. He celebrates this wondrous new acquisition by repeatedly firing it into the air... While the team make a hasty exit before he gets his first lesson in magazine capacity. The Free Jaffa also do this on at least one occasion.
  • Subverted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Careful where you shoot, you might get flayed.
  • Lampshaded on Sir Arthur Conan Doyles the Lost World. A character tries this, and is ordered to stop wasting bullets. They're in a jungle, after all. They'll need all the bullets they can get.
  • Parodied in The Colbert Report when Stephen celebrates Chicago lifting a 3 decade long ban on Handguns by firing Sweetness into the air and having Jimmy drop the balloons... which were all popped by the bullets.
  • Deconstructed in Reno 911. The Iraqi police officers that the Reno Sheriff's Department is training have a habit of firing their guns in the air in celebration. The deputies respond to this by telling them to run since the lead's probably going to be coming back down soon.
  • Lampshaded in the first episode of The Magnificent Seven, when a group of drunken cowboys form a lynch mob and are opposed by two of the series protagonists, who point out why this trope is a bad idea:

 Chris: You shot a lot of holes in the clouds back there. Anybody stop to reload?


Stand Up Comedy

  • In one of George Carlin's old "fake news" bits: Police fired over the heads of protesters. None of the protesters were hurt, but they managed to kill four people living on the second floor.

Table Top Games

  • Orks in Warhammer40000 do this constantly. For many of them it's the only reason they even own a gun, since they prefer to close in with crude melee weapons.

Video Games

  • Happens during the level "The Coup" in Call of Duty 4, where a platoon of Al-Asad's soldiers fire their guns into the air in celebration at the sight of the captured president Al-Fulani being brought to his execution.
    • It actually isn't uncommon in Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and some parts of Asia for people to fire in the air as an act of celebration. On New Year's in America people do fire into the air to celebrate as well.
      • This Troper stays in a Central Valley town in California over New Years and it basically sounds like a warzone for a few minutes after 12AM on New Years. There's a lot of doubt into thinking that those are just party poppers (who fires those outside?) or fireworks (which aren't even sold during the holidays).
      • Well of course not, fireworks are dangerous...
      • Well, at least some of it is probably fireworks. (Helpful Notes time- "proper" fireworks are flatly illegal in California, with somewhat unimpressive "Safe and Sane" substitutes available for sale only July 1-4. Buttttt, firecrackers and bottle rockets get smuggled over the Mexican border all the time.
    • In Modern Warfare 3, during the mission "Back on the Grid", a group of militiamen douse a civilian in gasoline and set him ablaze (unless you stop them in time). One of them fires his gun into the air.
  • Unhappy variant in Army Men: Sarge's War, with Sarge doing this Guns Akimbo with machine guns after realizing Everybody's Dead, Dave.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: During their trip through Palumpolum, Snow and Hope happen upon a group of civilians lined up to be relocated (or Purged) by PSICOM, and the line happens to go through their current path, meaning that if they try to force their way through, the civilians will be put in the line of fire. In an initially uncharacteristic move, Snow grabs a machinegun and fires into the ceiling, shouting that he's a l'Cie and that he'll kill them all. This causes the civilians to back off and PSICOM to filter through the crowd to them. It's characteristic of him after all when you realize that if he tried to help them in typical fashion, their chances of being Purged would have skyrocketed. Try explaining that to the townsfolk they just saved. Or to Hope, for that matter.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Zaeed does this at the end of his loyalty mission if you follow the Paragon route and let Vido escape while you save the workers.
    • In fairness to Zaeed, he is shooting at something, just something he has little to no chance of actually hitting. He does manage to kill one of Vido's lackeys, though.
  • After the score tally at the end of each level in Total Carnage, the player cheers and fires his gun up into the air. In 2-player mode, the player with the higher score will be doing this while the other stands in the background frustrated.
  • Lampshaded in Fallout 3, when you go to Galaxy News Radio and end up in a fight between the Lyon's Pride (an elite Brotherhood squad) and a bunch of supermutants. After the mutants are defeated, their latest recruit, Initiate Redding, celebrates the victory by shooting in the air. She is immediately told to stop wasting ammo and to not let her guard down. She is then immediately killed when the Behemoth shows up...


Western Animation

  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where recurrer Rich Texan (name and occupation) does this constantly. In at least one episode, he has been court-ordered to fire only blanks after one of his stray bullets hit a Texas ranger, and he comments that it just doesn't feel the same.
    • In another episode, he claimed to have OCD, and that most of his mannerisms, including this trope, are how it manifests
    • Referenced in another episode, where a soccer commentator asks the audience not to fire guns into the air should their team win, because "the bullets will come down... and kill my sister."
  • Family Guy. New Texas native Brian fires his free gun into the air a lot, accidentally killing the Super Devil.
  • Yosemite Sam would shoot up in the air, and every other which way, including down to the ground, which would lift him up with each shot.
  • Futurama Bender does this in the episode "Where no Fan has Gone Before", where they are pitted in a fight to the death. While Fry and Leela come up with plans to create primitive weapons out of caterpillars and rocks, Bender claims "...And we can use this gun to shoot them!" before demonstrating the trope, and ironically using up all of the bullets that would have been very useful later on.

Web Original

Real Life

  • A traditional feature of Afghan wedding receptions, which led to several tragic misunderstandings soon after the Coalition's arrival.
  • Celebrations in Baghdad after the Iraqi football team won the Asian Cup in 2007 involved a number of cases of deaths and injuries from stray bullets fired from celebratory gunshots fired into the air.
    • Likewise, in Mexico, public-access news networks can be usually seen warning people not to fire their guns in the air on holidays, because several people have already been killed by the resulting rain of bullets.
    • A man in Dallas was accidentally killed this way. He was trying to break in to someone's house... that person fired a warning shot diagonally upwards... the breaker-in was 6'5". Yeah.
    • A woman sitting in her trailer at the Texas Motor Speedway was hit in the arm by a .50 caliber bullet. It had been fired rather haphazardly by a hunter nearly a mile away.
    • When Lebanon fell into a decade-long civil war in the 1980s, factions and gangs all over the city armed themselves with AK-47s. These were so common that firing them into the air became a standard feature of celebrations, parades, protests, etc. Per news accounts, casualties from bullets falling out of the sky appeared regularly in hospital emergency rooms.
      • They also often fired into the air in the city of Beirut, which had many tall buildings, in order to kill people that had taken up position in said tall buildings. Some factions even brought in Soviet self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons (AA guns mounted on on vehicles- the famous ZSU-23-4 Shilka, in particular) as their response to the challenges of this brave new vertical aspect of combat. The Soviets did the same thing in Afghanistan in many cases, when the mujaheddin would ambush them in mountain passes and ravines; they'd hold the high ground and shoot down at the poor Soviet conscripts. It might not really qualify, of course, because they were actually shooting at something and not just expressing their joy to the world.
      • Anti-aircraft fire in general often qualifies for this trope, although again the gun crews generally have some target in mind. For obvious reasons, of course, most of what they fire misses...and what goes up, must come down! There have been several occasions when the air defense response caused more damage on the ground than the actual air attack, particularly when the gun crews thought that something was there and so shot at the clouds, but were in fact mistaken.[1]
        • This troper wonders if the Air Force ever took a page from the Navy's playbook: the Navy has expendable decoys whose purpose is to put out a false signal that imitates a ship worth shooting at. Thusly do you trick your enemy into wasting his ammo at ships that aren't there, or decoy away an incoming torpedo or missile. Flight of cheap UA Vs + blip enhancers = enemy wasting ammo and damaging himself trying to stop an airstrike that isn't there. (for extra entertainment, follow immediately with the real airstrike while their guns and SAM launchers are empty.)
        • Actually a strategy since the Cold War for penetrating heavy enemy air defenses. Bombers carry their warheads in the internal bomb bay, and carry decoy drones on the wings to confuse the enemy by launching them all over the place. By making the drones a particularly un-stealthy shape, they can even make the drone appear to be a huge bomber without even adding extra equipment (this would be even easier for modern aircraft, designed with minimal radar cross-sections in mind).
    • This troper has personally witnessed an extreme version of this trope in gun-happy Crete, Greece. A wedding celebration led to the locals doing this to celebrate, which led to the mayor bringing out his WWII Gatling Gun which led to nearby villages picking it up.
    • Jon Stewart joked about this after the Iraqi team won, saying that "11 people died from raining bullets due to a parade/people shooting in the air after only 7 people were killed during the first parade/people shooting in the air celebrating Iraq winning the Asia Cup"
    • While not strictly bullets, or a lot, there has been concerns about the Patriot anti-missile system shooting down enemy missiles over civilian towns and not properly destroying the warhead in the process, which consequently falls down in residential areas, leaving dangerous unexploded ordnance (if it just doesn't blow up on landfall, that is). The main reason for this is that the Patriot missile is foremost designed for anti-aircraft work, where a proximity fuse and a fragmenting warhead is just fine for bringing down aircraft, but in case of ballistic missiles simply punching some holes in it's body (and causing it break up) often leaves the warhead to continue on. This sort of thing happened during the Gulf War, against al-Hussein missiles launched by Iraq against Israel.
      • It also didn't exactly help that the Iraqi missiles were notoriously shoddily built---some of the missiles launched at Israel fell apart while in flight. Sometimes a Patriot would hit the debris created by the missile's body instead of the warhead itself.
    • Have none of these people heard of blanks?
      • See the above Texan.
      • Also, believe it or not, blanks are pretty damn expensive; usually starting at about $1 a shot.
      • Also, blank cartridges don't tend to cycle the action of automatic and semi-automatic firearms that well.
    • Myth Busters showed that this happens as long as the rifle/pistol is not pointing perfectly straight up into the air - on the fluke chance that it is, the bullet will just drift. Of course, the ability of your average celebratory shooter managing this is not all that high. Warning, Science content! A bullet fired straight up, or very nearly so, will expend all of its momentum in gaining altitude, less a little bit lost to air resistance. It will then fall back down, it's velocity limited by air resistance. A bullet fired at an angle, however, even a steep one, will still have a high velocity when it comes back down.
  • Darra Adam Khel. It's not celebratory, it's just product testing.
  • According to Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, Firing in the Air a Lot is a traditional way to celebrate festive occasions in Miami:

 On New Year's Eve, parts of Miami sound like a war zone, only louder. Unfortunately, the law of gravity--one of the few laws observed in Miami on New Year's Eve--causes many of the bullets to come back down, which is why police and firefighters do not venture into these areas until the rain of lead is over.

    • Fairly common in Pennsylvania and upstate New York as well.
  • In his book Lord of Misrule Christopher Lee mentions his squadron doing this to celebrate the surrender of the Germans in North Africa, including Spitfires firing their machine guns into the hills, while they were still on the ground.
  • Real Life militaries sometimes train to use their machine guns this way. It's far more fun shooting that way but the gunnery instructors get annoyed when you do it all the time.
  • This used to be such a problem in Puerto Rico during New Year's Eve celebrations that a specific anti-shot ad campaign had to be put in place. Thankfully it succeeded.
  • Averted with CIWS defense systems in Iraq - the automatic anti-mortar systems use self-destructing ammunition to reduce collateral damage.
  1. One of the most famous examples of this in Real Life being The Battle of Los Angeles .