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Zoe: Okay, people. If it moves, shoot it.

Kaylee: Unless it's the captain!

Zoe: Unless it's the captain.
The Firefly crew plan a rescue mission

They've got a job to do. They're facing heavy opposition. A strategy is called for.

Like, say, "shoot all the other guys". Why make things complicated?

Sometimes the good guys have to go into heavily-defended territory. There aren't any neutrals there, and it's too dangerous to leave any of the opponents alive. Maybe they're the defenders and the only things coming towards their position are trying to kill them.

Or, hell, maybe you just like shooting people. But to be clear, if you're the sort of person (or army, or species) that fights every fight this way, then you're just Trigger Happy, and this trope doesn't really fit you. This trope is about those situations where that really seems like the only solution to whatever problem you're in. Of course, if you're Trigger Happy, you may jump to that conclusion a little faster.

More Dakka might come in handy now, but it's not necessary--sometimes it's knives or clubs. Usually this isn't Gotta Kill Them All, because you've got some objective other than killing people--say, you're rescuing someone, or getting out of the prison camp, or making the Nazis surrender. But for whatever reason, if you see anything alive, you need to make it less alive. (If you want to put a positive spin on things, just call it a "Target-rich environment.")

Similar to Leave No Survivors. But in that case, the emphasis is on making sure everyone is dead--if someone hides and you miss him, you've failed. Shoot Everything That Moves is more about the situation where everything you see is a threat and a target--if something runs or hides and doesn't come out until you're gone, that's just fine. See also Leave No Witnesses, for the situation where the people around you aren't imminent threats, but they know too much for you to leave them alive.

Too many videogames to count are played this way, from Space Invaders on up. So only list video games that aren't just Everything Is Trying to Kill You (and you're returning the favor).

Not to be confused with Anything That Moves, though with some people, you never know...

Examples of Shoot Everything That Moves include:

Comic Books

  • The Boys: When Wee Hughie is given his standard-issue black leather longcoat, he's told to win fights by beating the crap out of anything not wearing one. This simple advice has apparently saved Butcher's life more than once.



 We are going in with the first wave, means more bugs for us to kill. You smash the entire area, you kill anything with more than two legs. You get me?

  • 28 Weeks Later has a fairly horrific scene where the soldiers are attempting to secure a compound by shooting infected, except that due to the speed and the confusion it's hard for them to make out just the infected. Then the snipers get the order that everyone is considered a target...
  • In Wild Wild West, President Ulysses S. Grant comments: "And you West, not every situation calls for your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two".
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs tells Murtaugh the plan for rescuing Leo.

 Murtaugh: What's the plan?

Riggs: Wait for my signal, then just go in and shoot those fuckers.

  • The Doom movie ups this from moves to breathes.


  • Mentioned a few times in the Vorkosigan Saga as a viable combat tactic when using stunners since it reduces friendly fire mistakes from potentially lethal to merely annoying. Similarly useful for hostage situations.
  • Several instances in Animorphs, where controllers start shooting anything that moves for fear it might be an Andalite in morph.

Live TV

  • The Firefly episode "War Stories", quoted above. The crew needs to rescue Captain Reynolds from Niska's satellite, and Zoe gives this as instructions.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, O'Niell gets annoyed with Woolsey continually calling out "General, is that you?" when he hears something. So when he needs to go activate a control in a flooded area, he hands Woolsey a gun and says, "If something is coming, then it isn't me. Don't call out to it. Shoot it."

Newspaper comics

  • In Boondocks, Riley is a fan of accusing people of this.

 Riley: "\[The NRA\] got this thing where you just go out and kill everything you see. They call it hunting."


Tabletop Games

Video Games


  The only advice I'll give you when you're in the jungle, shoot anything that moves. Then shoot the things that don't move, just to be sure.

  • When the eponymous duo from the first Ratchet and Clank game intercept a message from Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek to his troops, they see that his instructions to them in regard to the invasion of a city were as follows:
    • 1) Destroy everything that moves.
    • 2) Steal the power generators from Gorda City
    • 3) Destroy everything that doesn't move.
    • 4) Oh, and don't forget! Have fun.
  • Syndicate Wars was usually played using point and click, selective attacking - but you had the ability to pump your agents full of psychotropic drugs that would either make them auto-attack anything with a weapon, or just anything that moves and is within combat range. Not usually useful, but spectacular with the right weapons.
  • The Official Strategy Guide to Mechwarrior 2 actually had the advice "If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't move, shoot it until it moves, then apply rule 1."
  • Clicking the "Story" button on the menu of Kill Monty brings up the words "SHOOT EVERYTHING" in massive letters.
  • In Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, the main character is initially given a laundry list of objectives, before complaining about it. His Voice with an Internet Connection then gives him a new, simpler objective, which is the trope word for word.
  • The developer commentary in Left 4 Dead uses the phrase several times... chiefly when describing how certain Special Infected were designed to make players avert the trope.



 Virus: "What's going on?!"

Harry: "Whatever it is, we'd better stop it!"

Virus: "How?"

Harry: "The only way we know how... kill everything that isn't us!"


Web Original

  • This is what the basic plan for the final battle of Shadowhunter Peril turned out to be. Yes there were battle strategies, yes their primary goal was to get the kids out of the city, but once that was ensured and a few of the multiple Big Bads were occupied, it turned into shoot-or-stab-anything-that-isn't-remotely-human-until-it-is-unrecognizable-chunks. and it worked quite well.

Real Life

  • By some accounts, the U.S. designated "free-fire zones" in Vietnam, in which servicemembers were to consider all unidentified people as hostile, and shoot on sight. (If so, this would be a violation of The Laws and Customs of War.) Depicted in several Vietnam war movies.
  • US Marines General Chesty Puller is reported to have said "All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us...they can't get away this time."
  • There's a piece of conventional wisdom that goes, "If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't, shoot it just in case."
    • An alternate version from World War II. "If it moves, shoot it. If it screams in German, shoot it again!"
  • Standard video game tactics: "If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't move, shoot it anyway. If it has a functioning brain, shoot it first. If it shoots back, run."
  • Operation Freedom Deal: "A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves." It didn't work.