In the cinematic world, protagonists face a lot of challenges. It can be Sasquatch or Yeti, German thieves or vaguely ethnic terrorists, zombies, aliens, werewolves, or vampires, and that’s just the exotic list. Our heroes might face down against a redneck hillbilly, a couple of gangbangers, or some cracked out carjacker. Simply put – it’s hard out there for a pimp.
To combat these varied dangers, a hero must go armed. The proper choice of weapon depends on the threat faced, availability, and the environment. I’m not sure anyone has ever fought a hillbilly without the aide of a bow or crossbow, stopped a robbery without a pistol, or put down a zombie apocalypse without the use of a shotgun.
In the face of such great dangers, you’d think that the protagonist would make sure that he and his companions were always well equipped to face adversity. But you’d be wrong.
It’s a strange thing, watching a character drop a gun when he’s done with it. Or she. One can only guess what’s going through their head: “Well, looks like the immediate danger is gone so I might as well get rid of my only line of defense!”
How many times have we seen someone drop a gun when they’re done with it? In horror movies, it’s pretty common for someone to drop a fully loaded weapon after the immediate threat has been taken care of. It’s maybe slightly more logical to drop an empty weapon – that is, assuming, that there are no bullets left in the world. Because a gun is like a car – as long as it has fuel (bullets) it will work. If it runs out of fuel (bullets) all you need to do is refill it.
This applies to all sorts of supplies, especially in an apocalyptic scenario. Not to harp too much on the mediocre The Walking Dead, but in the most recent episode the resident cool guy shoots off a one-liner then fires an arrow from his crossbow while walking off-screen. Badass? I guess. Good practice during the apocalypse? Nope! Unless he has an arrow factory in his back pocket. You can’t just go around throwing your supplies away. After you do your cool little arrow trick, you walk over and pull it out. Then you head back to the highway and gather up all the water, food, and medicinal supplies that you can.
All of this is about preserving what you already have – well, except for that last line. That’s about getting new stuff – which is what this paragraph is about. Remember, we’re talking about facing alarming odds. Thousands of zombies. Hundreds of vampires. A dozen werewolves. A hundred evil aliens. You’re going to need lots of weapons and lots of ammo – so get it.
Sometimes a zombie movie will show our heroes gather up a few guns, but if you look at an action movie or a sci-fi flick, how many guns and ammo caches are left behind? If you’re stumbling around the dark with a pistol, then you shoot a Russian mobster who has an AK-74, you don’t keep walking down the hallway – you grab the AK-74. Now you have more bullets and a second gun! If you’re fighting hillbillies in the wood, after you crush one to death with a well-planned rock slide, you take his machete and his shotgun!
In my memory, I can only recall one movie really showing someone gathering up weapons – Alien: Resurrection. One of the characters heads down a hallway to pick up an abandoned assault rifle – smart thinking! Although in this specific instance, he dies shortly thereafter, without getting a chance to use it. But more often than not, it’s a good move to acquire more supplies, weapons, and bullets. When you see a gun, grab it! If you don’t, someone else will.
All of this speaks to the idea of planning for the future. In movies, how often is there more of a threat to contend with after the immediate threat is handled? Like 9 out of 10 times, that’s how often. Masked killers pop back up, accomplices appear out of nowhere – danger is everywhere, always. Be prepared. I know I would be, so that’s why when I see characters waste ammo, drop guns, or fail to pick up new ones, I go past my boiling point.