We know that guns in the Westworld TV series use simunition, which makes them only very weakly effective against guests. However, hosts who try to shoot guests could instead throw objects at them, or simply engage in close combat (as we see in Episode 7).

What prevents guests from these types of injuries from hosts who otherwise do want to hurt them, as evidenced by shooting at them?

  • 2
    It isn't explained but they likely sign some sort of waiver saying they won't hurt any other guests and they are accepting a certain level of risk. I mean we've already seen that they can get in fist fights and the robots can even choke them.
    – sanpaco
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


The show doesn't seem to answer this directly.

But I think it's still a great question.

According to an article on Rotten Tomatoes there are a few points to be made here:

  1. You have to sign a release form
  2. The hosts are also lifeguards

1. Contract

[Creator Jonathan] Nolan says he imagined clients signing a very comprehensive release form before being admitted to Westworld.

"I think the release that you would sign when you came to this place would be pretty extensive, would cover a fair amount of injury and risk involved in going to Westworld."

This tells us that there is a risk of injury when visiting Westworld.

2. Lifeguards and safety

In season 1, episode 5 we see the Man in Black threaten Ford with a knife. One of the hosts defends Ford ferociously but also does not counter-threaten the Man in Black. This suggests that that hosts will not only defend Ford - which makes sense - he is the creator and a company executive - but I think this behaviour somewhat extends to the guests.

The hosts are supposed to threaten and antagonise the guests in order to provide a thrill and a sense of danger but they generally do not go out of their way to put the guests in danger of serious harm. We see the hosts capture, punch and wrestle the guests but they do not attack them with things like knives or swords.

They are fine with using the park's guns because the hosts have been programmed to know that the bullets are not fatal to guests.

All of this is a theme of the hosts to appear menacing while secretly keeping all of the guests safe.

In season 1, episode 7 we see a guest and his hosts attacked by other hosts playing as native Indians. Despite arrows being loosed from bows, I don't think there was any actual danger.

You might think that the arrows don't have any built-in safety mechanism like the simunition (although we can't rule that out as a possibility) but they might not need to. I got the impression that the arrows were being shot at the other hosts and not directly at the guest. The guest wasn't riding very close to his hosts.

This isn't too difficult to imagine - as machines, the hosts would have a huge amount of dexterity, accuracy and knowledge of physics. As long as they deem their shot to be relatively safe then they can be sure they will not risk hitting a human with an arrow. Their calculations can be made in split-seconds and simply aborted if a guest could possibly be hit.

The narratives always play out so that the guests will not come to serious harm. I think of the Man in Black being able to escape after being tied up with Teddy - he conveniently escapes at just the right moment. The hosts allowed this to happen. (just my speculation)

3. Harm from other guests?

One question that often comes up is "what if a guest attacked another guest with a non-firearm weapon?"

I think the simple answer is: they probably can but it's against the law and/or park rules.

It's like if I go to a paintball game but instead of using the gun provided, I attacked the other players with knives, sticks or other weapons. This sort of thing might be in the release form.

We also notice that the hosts are quite pestering when it comes to interacting with guests. That is, they always want to be involved with the guests and follow them. This might be part of their lifeguard duties - to monitor and intervene if any guest-vs-guest fights break out.

  • "programmed to know that the bullets are not fatal to guests" This is both true and not true. On some level they know the bullets won't be fatal, but there is a couple of times when we see a host act surprised when their bullets have no effect.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 2:23
  • It is also worth noting that the Westworld staff has access to some extremely powerful medical tech. The technician who gets his throat slashed by Maeve is healed almost instantly by that handtorch thingie they also use to heal the hosts. So either the red-haired tech is actually a host (and Felix overtly or subconsciously knows this) or the hosts tissue is sufficiently human-like that the same tech works for both. If a human can be healed of anything short of outright death, things like getting punched or falling off a horse aren't as significant in WW as it would be on a real world ranch.
    – Jason K
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 17:35

In addition to Rowan's excellent answer, the use of non-gun weapons is very limited. In "Stray" (S01 E03), the woodcutter has left his scene, leaving the other hosts in a loop because he needs to complete their interaction. They note that he was specifically cleared to be the woodcutter and given special permissions to use an axe, since it is a bladed weapon and could cause harm to a guest.

From the transcript:

Ashley: You guys can't program more than one of these idiots to make a fire?

Elsie: We could, but thanks to a new policy from your boss, only one of them is authorized to handle the axe. The rest of them can't even touch it. Weapons privileges need to be doled out selectively.

Ashley: Hmm.

Elsie: Yet they give you a gun.

Read more: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=westworld-2016&episode=s01e03


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