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 "I didn't know you were a Hindu!"

"I'm not."

"Then what's that on your forehead?"

BANG

A little laser pointer mounted to a firearm. Allows a marksman to accurately point a weapon in the dark. Also tips off the target (and audience).

Much more common in fiction than in reality. The laser sight is a useful device in some situations, but it's expensive, can break, many holsters can't accommodate it, it needs batteries, it isn't bright enough to be visible in bright sunlight, and in dim light it reveals the shooter's position and intent immediately to everyone who may happen to be looking in that direction (unless it's an infrared laser and the shooter is wearing infrared goggles, but those are even more expensive and require more maintenance), etc. It does nonetheless decrease the time needed to aim reliably at a target -- especially in the dark.

Law enforcement uses laser sights for its psychological value: Advertising that they are, in fact, pointing their gun directly at the person may encourage that person to give themselves up without a fight.

Totally ridiculous, however, is the inclusion of these contraptions on sniper rifles, since for the shooter it does no more good than what his scope's crosshairs are already doing, and it merely serves to identify the target to the audience. Additionally, at long range the laser beam doesn't reflect factors such as gravity or wind that will throw the bullets off-target -- the laser can be useful for estimating the distance to target, so the sniper can adjust his telescopic sight to compensate for gravity, but that's about it. And again, a visible laser sight also reveals the shooter's location and intent to the target, who can then use the opportunity to escape for cover since they know somebody is gunning for them. As this is the only effective means to escape from enemy snipers, every television sniper rifle is shown using one.

The best (and most common) use for laser sights is in night combat, where the lasers are visible only through night-vision goggles. But this isn't meant to help the shooter -- it's to let his comrades, also equipped with night-vision, know where he is aiming so that they can aim and fire at the same target themselves.

Laser sights also allow the shooter to precisely shoot a weapon (most likely an assault rifle or a pistol) from the hip without relying on the iron sights or other optics. This is useful if the shooter needs to fire quickly, but it is limited to short range combat only.

In video games, a highly visible laser sight is one of a number of ways often used to cue players to the existence of snipers; similar to the classic version, Crosshair Aware, the player is able to see they're being targeted, and (for a third time) allows them to quickly identify the sniper's location (by simply tracing the laser to its source). While this is done to balance gameplay, it's not in itself a justification for the trope; that would imply there were some reason for the sniper to use a visible laser sight, and their presence or visibility is rarely explained in-game.


Examples:

Anime

  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex used this trope repeatedly. For the most part the usage is justified, as Section 9 uses laser sights on their pistols and assault rifles mostly to intimidate the subject into submitting. It gets less justifiable when the show has snipers use them, and visible ones at that.
    • Especially given that Pazu, being the team's sniper, has what amounts to a full sighting set, complete with a telescope, laser rangefinder and weather lidar, built into his eyes.
    • At the end of the original Ghost in the Shell, snipers use infrared lasers for an extremely difficult shot. They are only visible to Batou's Electronic Eyes, but don't show up to the naked eye.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: A teenager hopped up on nanotech goofballs shoots up a nightclub with a laser sight-equipped handgun. Just before he commits suicide, there is a camera shot where all you can see in the dim lighting are his teeth, and the laser dot on the roof of his mouth -- a very striking image.
    • In the same anime, the "Men in Black" have laser sights on their high-tech eyepieces. It's never explained what function the laser sights serve, other than tipping people off that they're being watched and generally creeping them out.
  • Played with by Teana in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, where she uses a Laser Sight purely as a distraction from one of her illusions while the real her sneaks up on her target. Snipers in the world of Nanoha generally avoid this trope.
    • However, having the search spells hover over their targets and loudly announce "wide area search successful" lives up to the spirit of this trope, especially when said target is about to be sniped by a Gundam-scale death-ray.
      • Said target was watching Nanoha live on a Magical Security Cam so the announcement didn't really spoil the surprise much. And her reaction was priceless.
  • In a scene in Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke gets into trouble with his teacher when a red dot appears on her forehead through a window, causing him to tackle her to the floor. Subverted by the fact that it was, in fact, a prank played with a laser pen that depended on Sousuke's paranoid nature -- sniper rifles in Full Metal Panic! avoid this trope entirely, so it's a bit of a stretch why Sousuke, being a professional soldier, would react to it at all. Then again, Sousuke is, as previously mentioned, paranoid and might have suspected Reverse Psychology, or could've just not wanted to take any chances.
  • Averted in Gunslinger Girl with Rico, the resident Cold Sniper. Her rifle has a ridiculously large scope, though.
    • The PSO-1 Scope used by the Dragunov Rifle she uses really is that big. In one episode she also uses a night sight which has to be big to capture as much of the available light as possible.
  • In "A Tale of Feeding off Others", Kino uses a laser sight while hunting rabbits.
    • And used in the same episode to show that her knife is also a gun.
  • Masako in Mawaru Penguindrum uses a laser-sighted slingshot.
  • Used as a joke in one episode of Seitokai Yakuindomo when a photographer for the school paper uses one to set up a shot of the main characters sleeping.
  • Kishin Corps has aliens with a single eye permanently emitting a laser. It's apparently only to make them look more intimidating, or to compensate for their lack of binocular vision, since the tommy guns grafted to their arms don't have laser sights.

Comic Books

  • In Marvel Comics Presents #39-41, a sniper aims main character Hercules as a cliffhanger in one issue. In the following one, Hercules notices the laser sight in his chest, and dodges it easily. The story takes place circa 2385 AD, and still they make the same mistake.
  • This Trope was used to kill Captain America.
  • This shows up in Preacher (Comic Book), though it's for the intimidation factor to let the KKK members Jesse was meeting up with know that he's covered by an ally. Later on it's averted when a hitman tries a snipe, but using his scope rather than a laser sight.
  • Averted in the Doctor Who graphic novel Agent Provocateur; when Martha gets shot, she notes that there was no laser dot and her only warning was a glint off the scope.
  • In The Incredible Hulks, this trope is invoked by The Avengers on the entire Hulk Family for intimdation purposes. The Hulk, knowing that everyone on his team is Nigh Invulnerable, doesn't fall for it--until Steve Rogers reveals that the guns are actually teleportation devices for sending them to the Negative Zone.

Film

  • Terminator: "The .45 longslide, with laser sighting." At the time, laser sights were nowhere near as common as they are now, and Arnold had to hide the battery up his sleeve.
  • RoboCop 3 A criminal enters a cafe/doughnut shop, unaware that the old cliche about doughnut shops being a standard hangout for cops actually applies to this establishment. As soon as he pulls out his piece and demands money from the cashier, there is what could be called a Click Hello on steroids, followed by six or seven laser sights pointed at the poor sap's torso. Donut Mess with a Cop!
    • Three on his face, actually. And half a dozen more that didn't bother with laser sights.

  What's it like, being a rocket scientist?

  • Leon / The Professional, where Laser Sights appear like cutting beams through a window, to be avoided by the Anti-Hero protagonist and his Little Miss Badass tag-along.
  • The Predator from Predator uses what appears to be three laser pointers built into his helmet. These are arranged in a triangular pattern, make a distinctive sound, and are used to target its shoulder cannon.
    • Though this is probably quite intentional. The predators are all about gaining honour and stuff. Giving their opponents a fighting chance is quite reasonable in context. In the briefing for one of the boss fights in AvP it even says "to retain honour amongst your clan, all your electronic weapons have been disabled".
    • Used to the extreme in the trailer for Predators when a character is bathed in these marks. It's only one of them in the actual movie, though.
  • Blade in Blade II has a little competition with one of the Blood Pack; he draws his pistol and aims at Blade's heart, thinking how easy it would be to shoot him. Turns out Blade has already done the same to him. We're let in on exactly what they're thinking by their laser sights.
  • Kind of a typical scene in Assault on Precinct 13 when a multitudes of laser pointers cross the entire interior. Apparently, pulling the shades on windows is adequate defense.
  • In The Dark Knight, several of the Joker's hostages disguised as terrorist clowns are targeted by snipers, and red dots pop up like chicken pox on one of them. They're rightfully freaked out.
  • One of the sequels to The Substitute invokes this trope to intimidate a group of gang-members by making them believe they are being covered by a like-number of hidden snipers, they are actually being covered by a single man with a gimbal-rig holding several laser-pointers.
  • The World Is Not Enough has James Bond spot a laser sight on a banker's chest in Bilbao. However, he can't save the guy in time.
    • In the same film, after MI 6 is bombed and James is looking out the hole in the building wall, he sees a laser sight just in time to duck out of the way. The shooter was located on a boat, about 300-400 meters away, with G36 equipped with a scope. And she missed.
  • Cobra. The cop played by Sylvester Stallone uses a Jati submachine gun with laser sight. While in a factory he uses the sight to distract some mooks by detaching it and leaving it switched on in a dark room. While the mooks are sneaking up on where they think Stallone is, he jumps them from behind.
  • Wanted. Towards the beginning of the movie, a man is shown talking with a woman, and a laser-point appears on her forehead prior to a Boom! Headshot!. Possible lampshade, however, as she was Indian, she had a bindi, which was naturally where the sniper aimed anyway.
    • Justified in this case, as the snipers were part of a trap. The killer wanted the man to know where the shots were coming from.
      • "I've been killing people for a living my whole life. I eat sleep and breath war. AND I JUST GOT THE BIGGEST BREAK IN THE HISTORY OF WARFARE! WHAT KIND OF IDIOT SNIPER USES A LAZER SIGHT HAHAHAHAHHA." *boom headshot*
  • Used in Phone Booth to scare the living daylights out of Colin Farrel's character.
  • The trademark weapon of Kurt Russell's character in Tango and Cash is a revolver with a laser sight mounted on top. However, since the movie is from the eighties, the laser-pointer is about as big as the weapon itself.
  • Star Trek First Contact: The Borg all have useless laser sights.
  • In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs adds a laser sight to his gun despite his already Improbable Aiming Skills. Early in the film he uses it to accurately plot a ricochet and take out a mook who's taken cover. Later he uses it to intimidate Jet Li and force his gang to stand down.
  • Transporter 2. Rule of Cool when attached to The Dragon's Guns Akimbo machine-pistols, but justified in two scenes where it's used to force the protagonist into doing what they want (the first time a laser dot is on the head of the kid he's protecting, the second it's on Frank's chest to make him get into a car he knows is rigged with a bomb).

Literature

  • The War Against the Chtorr. Averted with the AM-280 which has a frequency-hopping ultraviolet laser-sight. Without an EV-helmet keyed to the same codes as the rifle it's impossible to see the laser except as a subliminal flash.
  • In one of the BattleTech novel "Lost Destiny", a Clan elemental who is hunting Kai Allard-Liao with as few resources as possible uses a laser pointer aimed at Deidre, Kai's love interest, to convince him to come into the open. Kai does so, and the elemental mocks him for falling for it. Kai challenges him to a duel and breaks his neck, no small feat.
    • Averted by another novel, "Assumption of Risk." Here, an entire chapter is devoted to the death of a major political player in the Inner Sphere. Ryan Steiner, the Skye Separatist faction leader, is assassinated by a highly competent sniper in considerable and gruesome detail. As pointed out above, the universe does have some weapons with laser sights (especially targeting acquisition gear, which actually sends targeting data to artillery as opposed to being mounted on a gun), but for once, they aren't mentioned or used in any major sniping events in the course of the 'Classic' series of books.
  • In the Wraith Squadron novels, Myn Donos - a professional sniper, no less - is accused of not being in position to cover the accuser. The laser sight is never mentioned again, not even on a later mission where the viewpoint character is right next to two people who are subsequently sniped, so it's quite possible that he normally doesn't use it.

  "Look at your chest." Face glanced down. Dancing around on his chest was a bright red spot, the wrong end of the laser targeting sight from Donos's sniper rifle. Face half crawled out of the chair before he could bring himself under control. "All right. They're ready." The red light disappeared. "I'm going to get him for that."

  • In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Pavel Kazakov's men use these to keep some would-be enemies from attacking their principal.
  • In the Dresden Files, an assassin targeting Duke Ortega in "Death Masks" uses a sniper rifle with a laser sight. It does little but tip off the intended target.

Live Action TV

  • Firefly: Mal spots a laser dot on his business partner's forehead just moments before someone takes a shot at him. Unlike above, he's unable to save him.
  • In a notable exception, an episode of CSI: Miami features a military-trained sniper shooting random civilians, with absolutely no warning as to where or when he was going to strike... not even a laser sight. He even used a Ghillie Suit to avoid being spotted from the air.
  • Played with in an episode of The Sentinel, where the hero's friend protected him from angry mobsters by using a laser pointer and a pair of binoculars to simulate a sniper, forcing them to back down.
  • Subverted on Mystery Woman, "In The Shadows"; Philby and Cassie escape a sniper when he notices the red dot. The dot was actually created by a friendly party warning them about the sniper.
  • Played with in Fortune Hunter. The hero points out a red dot on a guard's chest, warning the man not to move or raise the alarm lest he be shot by a hidden sniper. The dot, however, comes from an off-the-shelf laser pointer taped to a tree.
  • Played straight in the RoboCop series, where a criminal is knocked to the ground. When his head clears, he has about a dozen lazer dots on his chest.
  • There was an episode of The Equalizer where a professional hitman is trying to kill a murderous thug who'd taken hostages in a building which only happened because the thug had seen the hitman's laser sight waving about on the wall next to him and ran for it.
  • NCIS: They whip this out pretty frequently. Notably in one episode where they have some sort of automated gun system thingy. There must have a dozen dots hovering around.
  • The Professionals. The intimidation factor of a "laser-lock sight" (at the time a cutting-edge technology) is a major theme in the episode 'Hunter/Hunted', with the villain using a stolen AM-180 rifle to conduct a War Of Nerves. But when the villain sees a laser dot on his chest from a similar rifle, he realises the game is up and surrenders peacefully.
  • Heroes series 4 -- Noah Bennet is taking aim with a sniper rifle (complete with bipod) and how does said target avoid it? Someone spots the red dot!
  • In the Jonathan Creek episode "The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish", Jonathan solves a mysterious death when he realises what Maddie described as a "red birthmark" on the victim's face was actually a Laser Sight. (He wasn't shot, though, so it's not quite that simple.)
  • One episode of Myth Busters had Grant Imahara putting a Laser Sight on a blowgun.
    • Which would have been hilarious if he had left it on as the laser would have refracted on the surface of the water anyway. I think that was when they were testing the myth that ninjas could sneak up in a pool of water, shoot the target, and sneak away.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto's Kunai Gun has a triple laser sight; in the first episode, Tendou somehow uses the sight in conjunction with smoke and mirrors (literally) to thwart a Worm in Clock Up.
  • One episode of Burn Notice had them being used specifically for the intimidation factor. Once the target knew he was being aimed at, he became a lot less inclined to shoot Michael.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth. Both Ianto and Gwen see the laser-sight of a sniper in time to avoid the bullet. Ironically this could have been a chance to introduce some realism to this trope, as the smoke from the explosion which just destroyed Torchwood 3 could have revealed the beam.
  • In Sherlock, this is used to intimidate Moriarty's hostages whom he is using to communicate via phone and pager with Sherlock.
  • In FX the Series, used by law-enforcement when ambushing a criminal-hostage pair after forcing them to a different location in a simulated fire.
    • In a related usage of laser pointers, a laser sight was used to detect the location of a sniper in real time based by aiming it through two bullet holes. However, the sniper spotted the laser dot and managed to avoid capture.
  • Played with in an episode of Weeds. Nancy is speaking at an outdoor family gathering when suddenly a red laser dot appears on her forehead. It's her niece playing with a laser pointer. The actual sniper aiming at her was using a standard optical sight

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 has Tau markerlights which work like this, and players commonly mock the lasgun's relative lack of strength compared to every other weapon in the game by comparing it to a laser sight.
    • Though to be fair the Tau markerlight does work as a laser pointer as well.
    • An actual limited edition laser pointer styled after a laser sight was recently released by Games Workshop, as a guide to the latest edition rules for shooting.
    • The actual use of the tau marker light though is not to help the wielder of the marker aim, but to aid other tau units to aim more effectively, and to guide their seeker missiles to a target. It's more of a laser designator than a sight.
    • Closely related games like Necromunda have 'red dot sights' as wargear that can be fitted to a weapon to make it a little easier to aim, but also give the target a small chance to spot the dot and dodge. Similar items may be available in some versions of the main 40k game itself, too.
      • Real Life contraptions dubbed "red dot sights" are either collimator or reflex sights that have the reticle (the titular "red dot") visible only to the shooter, and thus in no way alerting to the target.
  • GURPS is a little crazy with this. Red sights are good at night, orange sights are a little better than red during the day, green sights have better range during the day than night, infrared sights always have the same range. Oh, and did you want first generation version, modern version or integral targeting laser?
  • Mutants and Masterminds makes them available for all ranged weapons, but all they do is add a +1 to your accuracy.
  • Every single gun in Shadowrun has one.

Video Games

  • Metal Gear Solid is possibly the Trope Maker of the laser sight mechanic in video games. Several weapons in the game use a laser sight to show the direction in which the gun is shooting.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Sniper Wolf targets Meryl, and a red dot appears on her chest. Meryl notices it and just stands there for several seconds as if she doesn't realize what's happening, only to get shot -- multiple times -- by Wolf. Admittedly Meryl is a rookie, but hero Snake is standing right next to her and fails to react quickly enough to push her into safety.
      • One possible interpretation is that Wolf was using the sight to send a message (effectively taunting Snake and Meryl), and Snake felt that if he acted it might make Wolf shoot while the gun was still aimed at something vital.
      • Another possible interpretation is that Snake was gazing longingly at Meryl's voluptuous bottom at the moment and didn't notice it either.
    • Most weapons in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty have laser sights attached, which are useful because you can't aim down their sights in first-person view. The SOCOM from the previous game does use its ironsights, however, blocking your view of its laser.
    • The EZ Gun in Metal Gear Solid 3 has one of these. But then, it is the EZ Gun, after all.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4, you can purchase laser sights for some of your firearms in order to improve your aim, as well as the distance at which you can Lock On to a target with the weapon; however, in both single-player and multi-player the beam itself can be seen.
  • In Half-Life 2, the Combine snipers not only have laser sights, but unlike real lasers, the beam is visible from the side.
    • Averted in the first Half-Life where occasional snipers can only be spotted by the presence of camouflage netting and a dot on the ground.
    • And somewhat played with in Opposing Force - Adrian's Desert Eagle uses a laser sight in place of any ironsights, but it's only visible to him.
    • And used again in Team Fortress Classic - The easiest way to tell a Sniper is watching is if he's charging his shot, which causes a laser dot to show on a wall. Having one show up on your vision means you're pretty much fucked.
    • Let's not forget the rocket launcher in both games--although that laser's meant to guide the shooter and the projectile.
  • The snipers in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune have laser sights too.
  • In Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy, Ada, and Krauser (the game's main characters who use guns) all have their close-range firearms (handguns, SMGs, bows) equipped with laser sights, usually tiny ones mounted just under the barrel. (This is a great help to the player, as it serves as a realistic firing sight.) However, their rifles, as long-range weapons, lack these sights and rely upon conventional ones.
    • Leon's laser sight is absent in the Wii version. Instead, the player gets a traditional FPS crosshair that is moved around by the Wiimote. Ada and Krauser keep their lasers, though.
    • Resident Evil 5 did this with nearly all of Chris and Sheva's weapons, even ones with scopes. The one exception was the longbow. Enemies with machine guns or rocket launchers also had laser sights.
  • Dead Space also does this, being Resident Evil 4 in space, although they're nice bright, blue laser sights like in the Half Life 2 example above..
    • Justifiable, seeing as (all but one of) the "weapons" are repurposed mining tools, and as such concealability was a much lesser design concern than precision and ease of use. Knowing where the plasma cutting beam will go would be a tremendous help when carving up rocks.
  • Blaster users in Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 will have a laser guide or a crosshair projecting from their weapons when using the Sniper Shot skill.
  • Alfred Ashford from Resident Evil: Code Veronica uses both a scope and laser sight on his rifle, and he still can't shoot worth beans.
  • The Hookshot and sometimes the Bow in Zelda games have a laser sight. Seriously. It may be just for the player's benefit, though, and not an actual feature of the item in the game universe. Interestingly, in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, the cross-hair sight is an item gained separately.
    • In this case, may not be technically a Laser Sight. There is such a thing (used long before laser sights were practical) called a "peep sight" that had a dot in the center, usually referred to as a "pipper". Put the dot over your target, adjust for range, and the dot is where your shot would hit. A similar effect to the dot in the Zelda games could be done by having the range adjuster move the "pipper" towards you or away from you, depending on range.
  • Featured as a joke in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Sam Fisher is told that the snipers sent to support him "can only kill the people with red dots on them". Some mooks across the series use them, and they're also available as one of the Gun Accessories in Conviction.
  • The Sniper in Team Fortress 2 displays a dot color-coded to which team he's on whenever his scope is engaged, as a game balance measure. The game is Troperrific to the extreme, so it's about par for the course.
    • One of the Engineer update's new toys is the Wrangler, a remote control for the Engineer's Sentry Gun which wraps it in a Deflector Shield and allows them to selectively target and attack opponents. This is indicated by a helpful laser sight that shows everyone where the Engie is aiming at that moment, and when it's safe to cross--or safe for a Spy to creep up behind the Engineer and shiv him.
  • Subverted in the comedy game Armed & Dangerous, where the sniper rifle explicitly has a red light as opposed to a laser sight. This is even less useful than a laser sight for all the reasons above.
  • Present (as a Laser Designator) in Starcraft, where a sufficiently observant player can identify the target of an incoming Nuclear Missile by the pretty red dot dancing around on it.
  • In Call of Duty 4, M4A1 SOPMOD kits have laser sights - but they're of the infra-red variety, so you only see them when you activate your nightvision goggles. There is a crazy nighttime firefight (early on in "The Bog") where everyone had them.[1]
    • And said fight is awesome to watch.
    • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 some of the enemies in the gulag and Site Hotel Bravo have visible laser sights.
    • Don't forget the level where you get to use your gun's laser sight as a targeting pointer for the Stryker. Which carries a .50 caliber HMG. There are few sights more satisfying than watching three Russian choppers being blown of the air in quick succession as you get pass your Laser Sight over them.
    • And one-upped in the Spec-Ops level "Overwatch"; it's a remake of CoD4's "Death From Above", with the second player in place of the SAS team. The player on the ground gets a laser sight with which he can tell the player in the AC-130 where to hand out the free explosive death.
  • In Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel, most of the firearms except for sniper rifles can accept a laser sight as the attachment, increasing accuracy when it's on at but with a greater chance of the user being spotted.
  • In Pikmin 2, a half-robot, half-spider monstrosity known as the Man-At-Legs has a giant laser cannon emerge from its underbelly and uses a completely visible bright red laser beam to target and blast down you and your Pikmin.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day featured a laser-sighted crossbow.
  • One of the two sniper rifles in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City sports ... yes, a laser sight. And it's not all that good at distance.
  • In Portal, the adorable-yet-deadly gun turrets have laser sights. This makes it easier to avoid them, and also aids in a couple puzzles where you have to use portals to redirect the turrets' fire. The rocket turrets also have laser sights, but they're blue!
  • Lunar Knights has a take on this. The Spotters in the various stealth missions patrol a given region and come after you if you are in their line of vision. They stick to you almost like glue (but you can run to get far enough away from them to force them back to patrol mode), but they have no visible attack. This is explained in that they are broadcasting your location to sniper turrets conveniently placed in the region, and if you stick around for a ten-count (that hastens as you are reacquired as a target), both characters get a headshot. Unless you're packing Wild Cards or the Burning Headband with healing items, this results in an instant Game Over.
  • Averted in Deus Ex, in which none of the weapons have laser sights as standard, but the player can acquire them elsewhere in the game. There's nothing to stop you sticking one on a sniper rifle if you really want to, but it will provide no benefit unless you are firing it without zooming in.
    • Oddly the prototype plasma rifle (more accurately described as a cannon) is capable of using a laser sight (a character even requests such at one point)
  • Several weapon skins in City of Heroes (for the bow, the assault rifle and the twin pistols used in the Thugs powerset) include laser sights. However, like all of the weapon skins this is purely a cosmetic change and has no effect on the actual performance of the weapon. You can also adjust the color of the laser.
  • In Halo there's no sort of visible sign from the sniper rifles at all, and as a consequence of this plus a lack of other warning mechanics, your first indication that you've entered an area with snipers is usually your immediate painful death.
    • However, in Halo 3, they actually put a laser sight on a laser weapon. That shines for 3 whole seconds while the weapon is charging. Though as you might imagine, it's a one-hit kill. And its not really a sniping weapon, being extremely unwieldy at long range.
    • Additionally the Covenant sniping weapons fire quite a long laser beam, so if you don't die its possible to trace the path of the beam back to the shooter. At least you can only do this after they've actually fired. Of course, they also wear big glowing lights on their heads, so you can't give them too much credit.
      • To be fair to the Covies, the Human sniper rifle has much the same effect.
  • Most of Crysis' guns have a laser sight. It's somewhat justified for the homing system of the rocket launcher, as this weapon is laser-guided.
    • Especially notable in that, owing to the game's weapon customization system, a player could potentially put a laser sight on virtually anything, regardless of actual practical value. But then, a player can also do things like put a sniper scope on a shotgun firing buckshot with a wide choke, so how realistically they are used is really up to how the player chooses to accessorize their weapons.
  • In Jagged Alliance, while no guns except the rocket rifle have laser sights as standard (but in the same game, sniper rifles don't have scopes by the default), they can be equipped to most weapons (including sniper rifles) for a boost in accuracy. A laser sight in poor condition will actually lower your accuracy.
  • In Crysis 2, laser sights are typically mounted to carbines and allow CELL troops a higher chance of spotting a cloaked player if the laser hits the player. Players who shine laser sights into CELL trooper eyes will also alert said mooks to their presence.
  • The Multi-Gun in the latter part of the Jak and Daxter series has a laser sight. Since the game has no first- or third-person aiming modes, it's good to have something to let you know where your shots are going.
    • To be fair, Jak also automatically aims at the nearest enemy, so that helps, too.
  • The snipers in Mirror's Edge use laser sights that are visible along the entire length of the beam, not just as a red dot on the target. It makes it very easy to find the source.
  • Kai's crossbow in Heavenly Sword is equipped with some sort of contraption of mirrors to create a sunbeam sight.
  • Sniper Rifles in Dawn of War 2 appear to have a laser sight mounted underneath the barrel.
    • This is an RTS game though, so this is probably to help the player see which of his guys are snipers and which ones have bolters.
  • In the F.E.A.R. games, the snipers have visible laser sights which are fully visible along their entire length.
  • Captain Cross from Prototype has a yellowish-green fully-visible sight emitting from his fancy arm-mounted RPG-thingy.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2 the survivors can pick up laser sights for their weapons. While they do make your weapons more accurate, they're mostly used for letting other players know where you're aiming.
    • Of course you are shooting at zombies.
  • The guards in Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay have laser sights attached to their helmets, which serve no apparent purpose other than to indicate to escaping inmates which direction the guard is currently looking.
    • All the guns in the game also seem to have laser sights when wielded by the player, but this seems to be a unique crosshair rather than an actual in-universe feature, since the exact same laser dot appears on all the weapons (including a WWI rifle!) in The Darkness by the same developer.
  • Averted in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Laser sights in the game are IR-only and thus are only visible when using IR goggles. Given that its a realistic military FPS, their primary use in the game is the same as in real life.
  • Mass Effect generates a laser sight beam whenever an NPC uses the 'Assassination' skill with a Sniper Rifle. Seeing the beam paint Shepard gives you a half second window to throw up a Barrier or Immunity, or else...
    • The same effect, albeit with several years of graphical improvements, returns with a vengeance for the Cerberus Nemeses in Mass Effect 3.
    • Very well done in Mass Effect 2 with the Phalanx pistol, which comes standard with a laser sight. The blue laser is easy to see in both light and dark environments, perfectly predicts where the slug will hit, and allows for long-range shots that would otherwise be difficult to make with a pistol. The laser only appears when Shepard aims down the sight, so it never gets in the way during combat.
    • Also in Mass Effect 3, Shepard spends the better part of a level with a huge laser-scoped target designator strapped to his back. It's tied into the quarian fleet in orbit of Rannoch, allowing Shepard to call in orbital bombardments at will and helping him when s/he goes mano a mano with a Reaper.
  • The 2009 Bionic Commando remake is a MAJOR offender. There's a level where you leap from rooftop to rooftop taking out snipers by tracing the beams back to their source (not only is the dot visible, but the actual beams are as well).
  • When the inmates take over the guard towers in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Mook snipers in them use infrared lasers only visible in Detective Mode. Since the rifles were stolen from the armory of the asylum, thus meant for the guards' use, they're there for intimidation. However, if you look closely, you can see they are also wearing infrared goggles - trope cleverly averted. The sequel also manages to use laser sights while still technically averting the trope. The Joker's rifle, has a bright green laser in the shape of a smiley face, but only because he follows the Rule of Funny. When actual-assassin Deadshot snipes people, there's no warning whatsoever.
  • You could attach a laser sight to FN FALs' in Fallout 2 to increase your accuracy. Enemies couldn't see it, with combat working the way it did.
  • Command and Conquer Generals Zero:Hour and Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 have them. Generals has Avenger vehicles who can improve the rate of fire of friendly units. Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 has the Guardian Tank, whose secondary does the same as the Avenger.
    • Averted with Natasha who is a sniper, and does have a laser sight attached to her rifle, but it's used to target buildings and vehicles for air strikes. When she targets infantry or snipes pilots, she doesn't use the sight.
  • Alan Wake has a variation: Alan has no significant experience in firearms, and the game lacks crosshairs to represent this. Instead, both Alan and the player use Alan's flashlight to see where he's aiming.
  • Battlefield 3 lets you attach laser sights on most guns after you unlock them, which makes shooting from the hip easier and lets you temporarily blind enemies, but also makes it easy for them to spot you while you're hiding unless you turn it off. You can even attach them on sniper rifles, but as the game simulates bullet drop at high ranges, they can be very misleading like in the trope description as your shots will not hit where the dot is.
  • If you go into third person in BattleZone II, a laser sight will activate on your tank, eminiating from where the selected weapon is mounted, to assist with aiming. However, the laser sights are only visible to the person using them - other players or enemies cannot see them.
  • All of the player's weapons in Winback use one.

Web Comics

  • Funny Farm - Mileena uses an ordinary laser pointer to convince Pete that there is a sniper trained on him.
  • In Commander Kitty the III use laser sights at point blank range. Showoffs.
  • In Adventures of Fifine ambassador Schwartz (who insists he's neither) uses a sniper's laser sight to threaten his opponent. (Possible anachronism as the story is set in 1926. Sure, parallel world and all that, but...)
  • In The Last Days of Foxhound, Sniper Wolf has a laser sight on her sniper rifle, just like in Metal Gear Solid. It accidentally gives her away on more than one occasion.
  • In Spacetrawler, Yuri gets a laser sight installed. When she proudly shows it off, it makes the entire room glow bright red. It's not a malfunction, it's indicating that she's capable of blowing up everything in eyesight.
  • Vexxarr discovered just about the only situation when these things are really indispensable.
  • Lethal: Death Squad Rising features several assassins who should not quit their day jobs, but the one hired to kill the mayor in #4 goes above and beyond. Specifically, he uses a handgun with a laser sight. While disguised as a window washer on a scaffolding just outside the victim's office. In other words, aside from having no way to escape after the job, he is well within range that even an average gunman would score a hit without a sight, and all the red dot does is alert the victim so he can quip and get shoved out of the way.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Batman: The Animated Series: Bats spots a laser dot on Catwoman's head just moments before a cultist takes a shot at her.
  • The Boondocks: A little girl notices a laser dot on a Mall Santa's head, just before Riley bursts into the scene with a pair of airsoft guns.
    • Also in the first episode, Huey tries to shoot a rich white neighbor with Riley's airsoft gun. His grandfather notices the laser sight and keeps blocking it and/or pulling the neighbor out of range.
  • In Family Guy, when Peter is speaking to a Hindu he keeps mistaking the dot on his forehead for a sniper sight.
  • In the second season of The Venture Brothers, every character with a gun used the exact same kind, down to the laser sight. The creators actually complain about this on the DVD Commentary when sadistic maniac Ted's gun has it, since they figured he wouldn't need one.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons when Fat Tony threatens someone with an ice pick...with a built-in laser sight.
  • All of the energy weapons the bad guys use in Gargoyles use laser sights -- odd, since it's explicitly stated that the laser is just for aiming, and that the energy beam itself is invisible.

Real Life

  • There is now a pepper-spray flashlight that also has a laser sight on it. It can help make the target think you have a gun rather than just a flashlight.
  • When laser pointers first came out, then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter was at a sporting event and a child pointed one at his head; it ended as well as you think it did.
  • The SAR-21, standard issue assault rifle of the Singapore Armed Forces, is one of the few assault rifles to come standard with a built in laser sight.
  • Laser sights are available for purchase by civilians for pistols, rifles, bows, and crossbows. I'm not saying snipers will use them, but they are real and readily available.
  • They're used by quite a few handgunners as training aids. The laser dot will reveal flinches and other involuntary movements as the user aims and pulls the trigger.
  • An accessory for Nerf guns, though it's more like a red light with a focus. The Nite Finder has one built in.
  • A few years back, using laser pointers to "dot" a policeman was quite the teen fad in this area. It stopped when the police chief held a press conference to announce that officers were now ordered to treat this as a genuine sniping attempt.
  • Some courses recommend these for self defense in the home. Not only do they aid in target acquisition at night, they have the added "Oh Crap I'm being aimed at" deterrent effect.
  • There's a similar device (called a...boresight? Maybe?) which is actually placed directly in the barrel of a gun. It's a little more practical than your standard laser sight, because it works the same way, but it's actually intended to be used to calibrate a scope. Mythbusters used one when testing the "blocked barrel cartoon explosion" myth. It didn't do much damage to the gun, but it sure was a waste of whatever you actually call that thing.
    • You're thinking of a "bore sight" and it's used to test if a gun is firing straight or if the barrel is warped internally. You sight to a point, mark it, then remove the site and fire. If you hit the mark, then the barrel is straight.
  • During the war in the former Yugoslavia there were numerous tales of journalists sleeping on the floor of wrecked apartments as the dots of laser sights played across their walls at head height. Given the drawbacks of laser sights mentioned in the introduction this was almost certainly for the sake of intimidation, or perhaps the Serbian snipers had simply seen too many Hollywood films.
  • Snipers hired by Muammar Gaddafi have allegedly been using laser sights as well. Maybe they were like the Serbian snipers who don't care about the drawbacks and just use Laser Sights for intimidation. Perhaps their just as crazy as their boss.
  • One episode of the TV series That's Incredible featured a proposed use of a Laser Sight as a way of dealing with hostage takers. The presense of the red dot would tell the hostage taker that he can't use his captive as Human Shield since the red dot would be an easy guide to getting around that problem by aiming at any exposed part of his body.
  • In an episode of Beyond 2000, the Laser Sight was featured as a standard accessory to the American-180 submachine gun, including the Briefcase Blaster version which had it permanently built-in (in fact, this version won't fire until the laser is turned on as one of its safety features, the other being a combination lock which has to be set first).

Notes

  1. Also a rare example of laser sights being portrayed as primarily a teamwork aid; yours doesn't really help you aim, but you can see who's shooting at who easily.
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