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Simply put, a character sees a Cool Car that he knows he will never get to drive and will do the next best thing: He calls shotgun! (The front seat, for those unfamiliar with the metaphor) Bonus points if he beats out another character by a fraction of a second.
The term "riding shotgun" comes from the days of stagecoaches in the Old West. A stagecoach had a crew of two. One drove while the other protected the cargo and passengers with a short shotgun called a coach gun. While the term was never actually used in the Old West, it was first popularized by the movie Stagecoach. When the transition from stagecoaches to automobiles was made has never been determined.
Calling dibs is the non-vehicle variant. A typical way to play with this trope is to have the passenger actually carry a shotgun.
- From Birds of Prey:
Film -- Animated
Bowler Hat Guy: [runs over to the time machine] Shotgun!
Film -- Live-Action
Chazz: I permanently call shotgun.
Jimmy: You do not get shotgun every time!
Slater: Shotgun! [repeated line]
Danny Butterman: [running to police car] I'll drive!
Nicholas Angel: Shotgun!
- Malibu's Most Wanted
B-Rad: [on being kidnapped and shoved into the trunk of a car] Shotgun!
- Transformers (2007)
Miles: Hey, I called shotgun! Bros before hoes, man!
- Serenity. River Tam slips into the co-pilot's seat next to Captain Mal.
Captain Mal: So, you gonna ride shotgun with me, help me fly?
River Tam: That's the plan.
- Undercover Brother. As the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. agents run to the hovercraft so they can escape The Man's island, Conspiracy Brother calls out "Shotgun!"
- Psych episode "Rob-a-Bye Baby":
Burton Guster: Blimp rides!
Shawn Spencer: Shotgun.
Burton Guster: You can't call shotgun on a blimp!
Shawn Spencer: You can call shotgun anywhere except a crowded movie theater.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Queen's Gambit":
Sarah Connor: Field trip.
John Connor: I call shotgun.
Cameron Phillips: I call 9 mm.
- Angel episode "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco":
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: Yeah, remind me again how you ended up in the front seat.
Spike: Called shotgun, mate.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: Oh. I thought we were doing a weapons check.
- That 70s Show episode "Nobody's Fault But Mine":
Michael Kelso: Fine, Shotgun!
Steven Hyde: There's only two of us, you moron!
- In My Name Is Earl, Randy initiates his abortive romance with Catalina by calling "dibs".
- Michael Scott does this in The Office, even though they're taking Dwight to the hospital and he really should be in the front. Michael then explains the sanctity of the rule of shotgun and how it can't be questioned.
- Hank does it during a ridealong on Corner Gas, causing Karen, the actual policewoman, to ride in the back of the car.
- Later in the episode, Karen tries calling shotgun, but is told to grow up.
- The New Avengers in Canada episode "Emily" has Steed calling "bags" on distracting the bad guys.
- A variant from Friends. Joey and Chandler have traded apartments with Rachel and Monica, and they're moving in. While carrying something into their new place...
Joey: I call Monica's room!
Chandler: You can't just call Monica's room.
Joey: Sure I can. Standard shotgun rules: I'm in sight of the room and I call it.
- Red vs. Blue characters routinely call dibs and shotgun on any new vehicle.
Grif: Shotgun! Fuck!
Donut: Shotgun's lap!
Captain Qwark: [flying toward nefarious secret base in the shuttle] Shotgun!
- Half Life. In Half Life 2 Episode 2, Alyx Vance playfully calls "Shotgun!" before she and Gordon Freeman go riding in a dune buggy-like car.
- Halo. Friendly human NPCs will often call out 'shotgun' while you or another character is driving a vehicle and the gunner position is already taken.
- Hunter of Suicide for Hire calls shotgun in this strip. He is very satisfied.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship shows us the correct way to settle draws here.
- Apple Geeks introduced a game for calling shotgun. When someone calls it, any other number of passengers can respond by pulling down their pants. The first person has to drop his/her pants as well. A race then ensues (pants around ankles), and whoever gets to the car first gets shotgun.
- Futurama: When the crew need to go inside Fry's body with a miniature Planet Express Ship, both Bender and Zoidberg yell out, "Shotgun!" Bender beats Zoidberg to it.
- Mrs. Avery does this in The PJs...with an actual shotgun.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter befriends Bill Clinton. When about to enter the former President's limo, Peter pauses momentarily to express his awe before calling shotgun.
- In South Park when Cartman and his friends are on a trip to Nebraska, he called shotgun but Kenny is already sitting on the front. He tells Kenny to get out multiple times, but ignores. Until Cartman throws a dollar and Kenny leaves.
- There's also a Mitch Hedberg one-liner on the topic: "Last time I called shotgun we had rented a limo, so I fucked up!"
- Before that, he was talking about his buddy Dwayne, whom he said would call shotgun even if he and Mitch were being forced into a car at gunpoint. "I'd be riding in the backseat with the other kidnapper going: *shrug* 'He called it!'"
- To claim dibs on something in Japan, you lick your finger and touch it. "It's mine because I've got my spit on it!"
- Well, it works with food.
- Elementary school kids in America do the same thing at lunch to prevent dessert theft.
- This one's not restricted to just children. This troper has seen it done in their college's dining hall.