This has always amused me. A lot of times, while in the heat of battle, after the gun ammo runs out, the character looks at his gun giving it a slight shake. As if thinking this will fix a possible jam or add more ammo to it. What kind of reaction is that and why is it used so frequently?

I have just been watching another episode of Lost, and Sawyer did this exact thing when he ran out of ammo shooting at the 'others'.

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    It's the cinematic equivalent of wandering round the kitchen, making scissor motions with your fingers, in the vain hope it will make the scissors easier to find...
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 7, 2016 at 18:15
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    My favorite though is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer... In one episode, Vampire-Willow comes over from another dimension and is seen by Xander. Later when Human-Willow walks in, Xander pulls out a cross and tries to stop her with it. Not surprisingly the cross doesn't work, so Xander looks at it, shakes it, and tries again. If shaking a gun seldom works, shaking a wooden cross to get it to work, is even more pointless. Mar 7, 2016 at 22:14
  • I can honestly say I've never noticed this and even now that you mention it I can't recall it specifically.
    – sanpaco
    Mar 8, 2016 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


Probably to give the audience a clear indication of what's going on. If the guy said, "Oh, no! I'm out of bullets!" he'd look like an idiot.

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    I guess it's the same type of indicator as tapping repeatedly on the phone cradle when the line goes dead - like that would magically reconnect them.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9, 2016 at 9:23
  • Or repeatedly pressing the brake pedal when your brakes are out. Or noisily jiggling a doorknob when a door is locked. How many of these are there, I wonder. Mar 9, 2016 at 13:57
  • I'm sure tvtropes.org must have a list somewhere, but I can't find it :(
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9, 2016 at 14:25
  • @John Sensebe I dunno about the others but if my brakes went out and my choice was to accept death or keep trying the brakes... I'd keep trying the brakes. Mar 23, 2016 at 22:32
  • @Andrew, but I don't know that pumping the pedal is the best strategy. Maybe a question for another Stack Exchange community? Mar 24, 2016 at 14:10

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