• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


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

"You know what I hate?"

This is what happens when two characters have their guns aimed at one another, ready to shoot, but decide to have a conversation instead. This discussion is usually plot-related and will often reveal some troubling details or revelations that the protagonist and/or audience were unaware of. Occasionally, more than two characters will be involved, in which case it is almost guaranteed that the scene will be full of important exposition.

Oddly enough, it is not common for either character to actually end up shooting the other.

While potentially dramatic and good for narrative purposes, this trope can still come across as annoying, especially if the two (or more) characters involved each have very good reasons to shoot one another and have demonstrated that they have no qualms with killing.

Note that, like Mexican Standoff, this trope does not have to occur with guns; bows, wands, and other such weapons may be used in their place, so long as all of the characters involved possess them and have them pointed at someone.

See also: Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him, Kill Him Already, and Talking Is a Free Action. Gunpoint Banter can be considered a subtrope of Mexican Standoff.

Examples of Gunpoint Banter include:

Anime and Manga

  • At the end of Code Geass first season, Lelouch, aka Zero the resistance leader, abandons the Black Knights in the middle of the climatic battle in order to find his sister, whom he has just been informed has been kidnapped and taken to a remote island. Suzaku follows him, intent on finding out who Zero is and also stopping him for good. Kallen, being both The Ace and Zero's personal bodyguard, follows Suzaku. They end up having a Mexican Standoff on the island, with Suzako revealing Lelouch to be Zero and Kallen too shocked to shoot either of them while the two have a big falling out over each other's actions.

Comic Books


  • In D.E.B.S. (2004), agent Amy Bradshaw and supervillainess Lucy Diamond end up in a face-to-face Mexican Standoff. Amy tries to talk Lucy into surrendering, and they start discussing Lucy's love life, how Amy is writing a paper on Lucy's crime career and so on.
  • The third Pirates of the Caribbean movie had a whole lot of characters having a heated discussion at gunpoint. It did end with them trying to shoot each other — but nobody died, because they all had wet gunpowder.
    • Notable in that it was also played for laughs in-universe. Everybody involved ended up laughing at the situation, putting the weapons down for a moment... and then going right back to being serious again, guns ready.
  • This trope occurs in many John Woo movies, given how he popularized the two-man Mexican Standoff. The Killer is probably the best example, and notable in that the two characters involved (Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee) are not mortal enemies and have more in common with each other than meets the eye.
  • This happens twice in the movie Paycheck. The first time, the villain doesn't shoot because he'd rather leave the protagonist to get run over by a train (doesn't work). The second time, the villain doesn't shoot because he knows that neither of them could possibly die at that moment (he'd seen into the future) so he and the protagonist drop their guns and have a fist-fight instead.
  • This occurs in the movie Shoot 'Em Up, as pictured. However, given that the movie is aware of itself almost to the point of being a parody of action movies, the trope fits in surprisingly well.
  • The Siege has the protagonist come in with a group of fellow FBI agents to arrest the army general ... in the middle of an army camp. Cue trope.
  • A more plausible version of this trope occurs in Assassins (1995), because the two hitmen are pointing guns at each other from either side of the bulletproof divider in a taxi cab. That doesn't stop the younger assassin from trying anyway, just in case the Lexan glass wasn't "Made in America".
  • Happens in The Matrix, although the reason for it is that they both were shooting at each other and ran out of bullets.

 Smith: "You're empty."

Neo: "So are you."

    • There's also Trinity bluffing her way out of the Mexican Standoff with the Merovingian in Matrix Revolutions.
      • She wasn't bluffing.


  • This occurs, with wands, at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows between Harry and Lord Voldemort. It makes appearances all throughout the series, in fact.
  • In the prologue of Red Seas Under Red Skies, Locke and Jean face off against two mooks with crossbows who try to convince them that they're at a disadvantage. When they eventually resort to taunting that Locke's arm will get tired first, Locke retorts that he'll rest his crossbow bolt against the mook's nose. Then Jean breaks the Mexican Standoff by turning on Locke, without giving the signal that means he's bluffing. We find out six hundred pages later that Locke just missed the signal.

Live Action Television

  • Magnum, P.I. had a couple like this. In one Luther Gillis is pointing a gun at a guy who is pointing a gun at Luther Gillis and Magnum is pointing a gun at him. Then Magnum said something along the lines of, "Here's how it works: he shoots him, you shoot Luther and then I shoot you. So I get two for the price of one, which right now doesn't sound like a bad bargain."
  • Occurs in The X-Files at one point between Scully and Skinner.
  • Captain Jack and Captain John in Torchwood, at the end of the Kiss Kiss Bar Brawl scene. It's a fun conversation and they end up having a drink together.
  • In the Spaced episode "Battles" Tim and Duane are having a close range paintball standoff when Duane's phone rings. They also seem to be having a "who can talk lower" contest.

 Tim: Aren't you going to answer that?

Duane: I have an answering service.

Tim: Guess you have an answer for everything.

Duane: I can't believe you just said that.



Video Games

Web Comics

  • Happened in Exploitation Now between Jordan and Jones when the latter is attempting to assassinate her.
  • A Running Gag in Sluggy Freelance involves this between Riff and 4U!Rammer...except that the former is using a finger gun, while the latter is actually armed.

Western Animation

  • Parodied by way of deconstruction in American Dad. Stan and Francine get into a Mexican Standoff, and Stan talks about how every time they do this, Francine's arms get tired far sooner than his, and he just has to keep talking until she lowers the gun — by which point Francine's arms are visibly shaking from fatigue and she begins to drop it.

 Stan: Come on Francine, not this old routine; You pull a gun, I pretend I'm gonna do what you want, then I pull out my gun, we do our little John Woo stand-off inevitably your arm gets tired, you drop your gun and we have nobody-got-shot sex.

  • Done in a Family Guy Cutaway Gag, when Brian and his roommate hear the O.J. verdict, have opposite reactions and pull guns on each other.

 Brian: Maybe we should get new roommates.

Roommate: Yeah, maybe we should.


Real Life

  • The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. "You know, we really only need enough nuclear weapons to totally obliterate each other once."