"Drop it or I kill the girl!"

A standard and overused trope in action movies is where Antagonist threatens to do a Bad Thing in his dying breath unless Protagonist drops his weapon. In a movie I saw this weekend it was done twice in the breadth of fifteen minutes, first where Primary Goon threatens to cut the throat of Love Interest, and later where Antagonist threatens to detonate a bomb. Naturally, in all scenes Protagonist has a pistol drawn and cocked, and being a highly trained special forces operative, can be presumed to be capable of putting two rounds into a head sized target from ten feet even under the worst circumstances.

So the question is, what are the chances that the hostage(s) are put in danger by putting a bullet or two into Antagonist’s brainpan? Could a nervous reaction at death be coordinated enough to slit a throat/press a button/trigger? What is police protocol in this kind of situation (hostage in direct danger, police have an unhindered shot at the perperator)?

(Need answer fast)

I remember reading or seeing somewhere that the LAST thing to do is to drop the weapon?

If you still have a weapon, the worst case is a standoff - he kills her, you kill him. But once weapon is dropped you are both at his mercy.

But that is totally pulled from backside and I have no experience or cite other than my post to back it up

I asked this of my uncle (he’s a Dallas cop) when I was a kid. His response was: 'No way in hell am I dropping my gun. And I would tell him in no uncertain terms “If you kill her; I WILL KILL YOU.”

Being a kid, I’m not sure if he was pulling my chain or if he was serious. Knowing my uncle; I think he was serious.

The rational choice is to drop the gun and surrender to the police. If you don’t, if would either be a stalemate or you get killed by some sniper. Not good.

The problem I see is if the opponents are not the police, but other people such as mafia, in such scenarior, your safety would be be guaranteed if you surrender. I think you would need to order a car or something to get out, with the victim.

To all have responded…eh, let me clarify my question:

I wasn’t asking about standard police procedure in regards to whether or not to drop your weapon in a hostage situation. My question is whether it is plausible that an antagonist may inadvertently perform a complex action (push a button, cut a throat, pull a trigger) as a reaction to being shot in the head.

In a Donald Hamilton novel, Matt Helm just walked up close enough to shoot the Antagonist in the eye.

I’d say it is entirely possible that some reflex action would cause the bad guy to shoot. We’re dealing with the hostage’s life, so I vote for a stand off as described above.

OTOH, if the antagonist can hide his weapon, he could shoot the protagonist from the shelter of his hostage.

The weapon is NEVER dropped, but the shot is rarely taken, either. The cop waits for a opening.

Well if we are talking novels, in The Trinity Vector by Steve Perry, a character shot a man holding a girl hostage with a knife to the throat in the brain and explained later that if you do that the final contraction of the muscles will (usually) cause the arm to jerk outwards. No clue if that’s true or artistic license though.

In Robocop, Robocop shot the perp in the balls, aiming just below the crotch of the female hostage. In one case in Spooks, the perp was killed by a shot through the hostage, killing the hostage.

The Onion Field, while fictionalized, is based upon an actual LAPD case, and has a similar situation. The bad guy (James Woods) grabs a cop (Ted Danson) and orders his partner (John Savage) to drop his gun. Savage does so; eventually his partner is killed. Savage escapes and is ostricized by the other cops for giving up the gun. Since Joseph Wambaugh, who wrote the book and wrote and produced the movie, was an LA cop, it’s clear that cops were told never to give up their gun.

Indeed, this is a well used trope. Hence my quest for a factual answer. :slight_smile:

Got it; don’t drop the gun. Now I need to decide whether to shoot or not. Assuming I’ve got a pretty good shot, do I take it? If I hit him in the head will he live long enough to cut Polly Pureheart’s throat? Push the big, red history eraser button? Get in some clever dying words?
BTW, if you don’t drop the gun, can you still take the cannoli?

I never shot any hostage-holding movie bad guys, but I’ve shot a fair few animals while hunting. IME, a shot that destroys the brain or severs the cervical region of the spinal cord results in the animal dropping like a marionette that has had all its strings cut. No twitching or jerking…just flop-thud. Seems to me that while Mr. Movie Bad Guy is busy making demands, a shot should be placed right through his open mouth…

The danger may not be so much that a headshot might still permit a final, trigger-pulling spasm; the problem is that you may miss, and anything short of an instantly fatal shot may well permit the bad guy to pull the trigger. Even a headshot won’t necessarily kill instantly, or kill at all. Skulls are tough; they won’t stop a direct hit, but they’ve been known to deflect glancing shots.

I’m spitballing here, but I would think that cutting a throat requires a more complex action (controlled horizontal motion, applying appropriate pressure) than pulling a trigger (a twitch of a finger.) If the perp held a knife and I had a clean shot I would think it would be a no-brainer (at least for the perp, in the end… heh heh, see what I just did there?) If he’s holding a gun, not so obvious. Maybe wait until he moved the gun away, assuming you have Jason Bourne-like timing and aim.

Absent any training, that’s what I’d do.

BUT… that’s only if I absolutely knew he’d kill the victim. If he hasn’t just shot me when I’m standing out there in the open then he’s not in a killing mood. In such case, wait him out.

I can’t seem to remember which movie(s) circumvented this trope by having the cop shoot the hostage first, likely in the leg, to make them drop to the floor and surprise the hostage-taker long enough to shoot them.

But I love that. :slight_smile:

There’s always the Nazi solution for a hostage dilemma from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

“Shoot them. Shoot them both.”

Kill the brain and the hand with the knife does not move, not even a little bit.

That was from Speed :cool: