All (or nearly all) in the movie Fight Club can be explained by the protagonist's mental disorder. But why does he stay alive and get rid of his alter ego after shooting himself? What is the meaning of this?

  • 1
    Possibly helpful related question.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 12:56
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    @TylerShads That might even be a duplicate? I remembered this to have been asked before, but when looking through the tagged questions I must have missed it.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 13:11
  • @ChristianRau I'm torn because it asks how he stayed alive, but even from my answer most of it is the same.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 13:34
  • Maybe he imagined Tyler die in a way the bullet would go through his head and just wanted Tyler to feel how the pain feels like?
    – august32
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


When you watch the scene closely (I wish I had screenshots...might have to dig later) you can clearly see that he doesn't shoot himself in the back of the head, but really in the side of the mouth, albeit farther back than his cheek.

Even if you feel around with your tongue you can feel that it is just skin and muscle and nothing important until you get to your jawbone, we can assume he hit just before that, which explains why he is still alive. A shot like that would hurt a tremendous amount, and probably bleed a lot, but it won't kill you outright, not unless you don't find proper treatment or something to close the wound. Note I AM NOT A DOCTOR

The rest of this answer is C&P of my answer to a related question

It is then he realizes that he must follow Tyler's own advice and "hit bottom". Only by doing so, is he able to control his own body and "kill" Tyler. To hit bottom he realizes he must do something life-threatening and plain insane.

Whereas the bullet only blew a hole in his cheek, it was his mental F--- You to Tyler, showing him that he can take care of himself now, which is why the bullet is shown to have gone through the back of Tyler's head, killing him.

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