Shoot-out Shenanigans

So, I was watching one of my favorite sci-fi/thriller TV shows the other day.  This show, which shall remain nameless, is known for exceptionally clever writing.

Toward the end of the episode, our heroes were engaged in a marvelous cat-and-mouse shoot-out with a gaggle of bad guys.  Now, the bad guys were doing everything in their power to kill our heroes.  In fact, the plot dictated that they had to kill them at any cost.  It was great fun and tensions were high!

Then, it happened…

A bad guy gets the drop on one of our heroes!  And what does the bad guy do?  Yep, you guessed it…

“Drop the gun!”

Really?  Two seconds ago you wanted nothing more than to turn our hero into Swiss cheese and now, all of a sudden, you’re Chatty Cathy and want to explain your motives long enough to get shot yourself?


There seem to be two reasons¹ for using this device:

  • The “I’m not going to kill you yet because I need to explain some crap the audience needs to know” reason.
  • The “let’s manufacture some tension and buy enough time so the hero can get saved” reason (this one was used in the episode I saw).

I’m truly amazed at how often this happens on TV and in movies.  If I ever use this convenient plot device (I’m sure I’m guilty of others), you have permission to punch me right in the face².

¹ If you’re aware of other reasons, please leave a comment.
² Face-punching must be scheduled in advance and must not be as a result of you having the drop on me with any sort of firearm.

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