Talk:Chekhov's gun

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Foreshadowing contradiction[edit]

The second paragraph says that Chekhov's gun is different from foreshadowing and links to the foreshadowing article whose first paragraph says that foreshadowing is the same as Chekhov's gun. Which is right? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:51, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Obviously the second one is. Look at any examples of Chekhov's gun and foreshadowing in situ. Foreshadowing alerts the reader, Chekvhob's gun doesn't. "John's eyes glanced over the red marble, the Parade magazine and the old orange. Sighing, he explained to Mary that..." vs. "John's eyes glanced over the red marble (little did he suspect he would later rue his inattention to the change in color from orange!), the Parade magazine, and the old orange. Sighing, he explained that the laws of physics weren't breaking down to..." --Gwern (contribs) 00:35 17 November 2009 (GMT)


  • Not to be too snide or critical I think there are better examples than the TV series "24" where something incidental in the first few episodes is forgotten until it becomes the basis for a plotline in the fifth season. This would more be an example of how not to do it than how to. --SMSkaar 21Aug06
  • Isn't Chekhov's gun just a specific example of foreshadowing? -AnonArtist
  • The way I see it, foreshadowing is something you usually see fully in hindsight but have clues towards beforehand; the "Hero's Toolkit" is something that you can see having a major effect and is virtually labelled as such (like the Bond gadgets). Chekov's Gun is more an item or happening that isn't strongly and conspicuously forced as a plot device, but stands out enough to have a mental 'hook' - for example, if a hero were to be in an area with a large warning sign regarding a steep drop or dangerous wiring in the background, that had the danger later used with the effect of dispatching a villain, that could be considered a Chekov's Gun. Other examples I'd put forward would be the toolshed in Evil Dead II, or some of the more obscure 'magic' items in folk tales (such as the hankerchief that becomes a lake in a time of desperate need in some variants of the Baba Yaga tales).
There is also no way this needs to be merged, as it has gone on to be a valid seperate technique in its own right and is related to Chekov in name only, in much the same way as the page on Pythagorean theorem shouldn't be merged with Pythagoras. What it might need however is a more detailed and accurate way in which it differs from foreshadowing to prevent people in the future assuming that a merge is needed? Slavedriver 18:47, 25 January 2007 (UTC)


  • ~~ Simba 16:32, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
    This article doesn't add any useful information to explain what the notion of "Chekhov's gun" is, and it's size (which I do not believe could be expanded beyond stub-length) is so small that it does not warrant it's own article, and could be easily included in Anton Chekhov. This is my first proposed merger (new user), so I'm not 100% sure how to go about this. I added the merge tag on the article page, and I've brought up the subject here in talk; I'm not sure what to do now. Wait a period of time and, if there are no objections, merge the article? Wait for somebody else who's more experienced to merge the articles? Wait until enough people vote that a consensus can be reached? ~~~
  • It might be more profitably merged with foreshadowing. Goldfritha 02:55, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Do not merge. Chekhov's gun is a distinct and detailed enough subject to have its own page. Anthony Appleyard 12:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Do not merge. This is a literary technique, connected to Chekhov only in name. Not everything on Wikipedia has to be located in lengthy articles whose tables of contents continue for lines on end. Kurrupt3d 21:36, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Do not Merge. There should be a mention of Chekhov's gun in Chekvov's page, but it still has enough significance to be its own as well.
  • Do Not Merge Chekhov's gun is the principle of foreshadowing and payoff, whereas plot coupons are a course of action, either sequentially, or just as a to do list. Plot vouchers don't necessarily have a payoff, or it may be Chehkov's gun being shot very badly, with rubber bullet ammo. Take the Stars Wars saga. The Chekhov's gun is that Anakin was indeed the Chosen One, although it didn't seem like it during the Vader years. A plot voucher would be the racing pod. No, they can't leave Tatooine riding it, but you can bet on the race to pay for the repairs to Amidala's flagship, and see the potential of the young Anakin as well. Was there really foreshadowing and payoff with the pod? I don't think so. MMetro (talk) 02:30, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Absolutely Do Not Merge. Chekhov is talking about foreshadowing, not plot devices. The gun is not in fact a plot device since it wasn't created to advance the plot (if it was implausible to have a gun available the protagonist would have to find another way of killing). (talk) 17:40, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Do Not Merge. While a Chekhov's Gun can also be a Plot Coupon, the two are separate literary ideas. Somthing that is merely a plot coupon should not exist in a serious work.Robbak (talk) 07:02, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Do not Merge. Chekhov's Gun is not foreshadowing. It's not a plot device. It's not a MacGuffin or plot coupon. It's not a gun. The gun is just an example of it. Chekov's Gun refers specifically to the need for anything introduced to be applied: if you introduce it you'd better use it. It is about production for use. If you introduce a library in the first act have someone look something up or check out a book in a later scene. If you introduce a library and never return to it the library becomes a MacGuffin to induce a sense of verisimilitude without conveying its actual use and is therefore wasted. If a character is a professor but never teaches a college course then what exactly is that person a professor of? It's a wasted title that serves no purpose but to make that character seem more intelligent or intellectual than the other characters. A professor should teach at a university. If someone is called a professor then logically they should teach a college course. This is not foreshadowing this is using what you've created. If you introduce a science lab with a Jacob's Ladder or a plasma globe, that Jacob's Ladder or plasma globe had better actually do something rather than just buzzing a stream of electricity to look cool in the background. It isn't foreshadowing it's following through with what has been foreshadowed. Egad! Zerooskul (talk) 00:41, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Don't merge unless you can find a better term than foreshadowing. The Hero's Toolkit?[edit]

  • It's more than a foreshadowing. The Hero who overcomes, with the gizmo which is supplied with some kind of foreknowlege, is a genuine archetype. More than prophesy, there's also an issue of technology and preparedness by means of a kit. As a part of the Hero Myth it long preceeds Chekov or James Bond, and needs a name.I think this is way down deep in the humnan psyche. Here's a place to put it. I'll add a few "heroic" references. Perhaps we really need a primary Wiki for "The Hero's Toolkit." Sbharris 23:52, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree that this shouldn't be merged into Chekhov, but perhaps a move to a different title would be appropriate. This article also could include a section of examples. Apathetic 22:59, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Maybe there should be some mention of the film Paycheck, in which the hero receives a bag of items at the beginning that all turn out to be vital as the film progresses? --cfmdobbie
  • I am familiar with the idea and its source, but I've never heard it called "Chekov's gun." The form I'm familiar with is "the gun over the mantlepiece." Can anyone supply usage examples of this form of the idea? If not, I'd call it idiosyncratic or private (I know there's a Wiki way of saying this, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now) and suggest that it doesn't rate an entry. BTW, the way I've always seen it used, the idea is not quite the same as "foreshadowing," though it is related. Instead, it points to the kind of carefully-constructed (or contrived) setup of circumstances that writers of the "well-made play" would employ. A similar notion is "planting" an item or characteristic or bit of back-story, especially in thrillers and mysteries, the importance of which becomes apparent at the climax of the action.RLetson 20:37, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Paycheck's an interesting idea but weren't those items dileberately placed? probably still deserves a mention, I wouldn't suggest that this page be merged BTW. - raptor 16:25, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Just adding my two cents -- I definitely think this article shouldn't be merged. I came to Wikipedia and looked up "Chekhov's Gun". If I'd have been redirected to Anton Chekhov, it would have singularly annoying, to have to look through the other article for this one.
  • I'm another person who did what the respondent above did--someday I'll read or see more Chekhov. Oddly, I never heard the concept called this before today and that's why I'm looking it up. But as a writer myself, I am very familiar with the idea of avoiding unnecessary elements--as noted below, what Chekhov is giving is a dictum against, not a prescription for doing something. There's a world of difference between this advice and a making a recommendation that objectified clues should be added to provide foreshadowing, which is painfully common in genre literature and movies. So I feel the entry should probably stand alone, as an idea-phrase that someone might be interested in looking up, but ironically it's an concept that people continually invert and misuse. --SMSkaar, 21Aug06
  • Merge with foreshadowing. The advice Chekhov gave is essentially to avoid false foreshadowing. It's true that good foreshadowing is more than simply putting a gun over the mantelpiece for use later, but the primary example used in the foreshadowing article is exactly this one (which makes me think I need to improve that article). --Tysto 23:04, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I've deleted the examples from the "Lord of the rings" books from the "Chekhov's guns in modern literature" section of the article since these examples were already written in the explanation of the term itself. I am against merging of this article with Anton Chekov's article because it is an explanation of a literary form. As we all can see, examples were taken from classical pieces of writing, which were labeled 'The Chekhov's guns' much much later. I don't think that these examples were labeled 'The Chekhov's guns" by Chekhov himself, they were more likely called that by some critics that remains unknown in the article. There is NO idea in the article that Chekhov called these examples his guns. Also we have the explanation below in his letters why these literary examples were called his 'guns'. He explains to his friend that he shouldn't place rifles in the scenes if he is not going to 'use' in the next scenes, critics connected his 'guns' to the history hero quests. VeLiKi 07:19, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
  • It's not the same as foreshadowing or the Hero's Toolkit. The audience often has little idea when foreshadowing is taking place, and the Hero's Toolkit sounds to me like something from MacGyver or a King's Quest game--the audience knows as soon as they see it that the hero will find a use for all the objects. Chekhov's gun is less subtle than foreshadowing and more subtle than the Hero's Toolkit. It's often used as a tease--the audience sees a gun (or some other significant object) and they expect it to be used eventually, but they aren't sure how or when. It's a relatively common term in theater, and it definitely shouldn't be merged with any other subject. I think it's fine just left as a link in the foreshadowing article. IrisWings 22:13, 28 October 2006 (UTC)


Well, now I've read that I've had both series 5 of 24 and a couple of harry potter books ruined for me. Alas, I can't figure out how to put in a useful spoiler warning in there without arbitrarily blocking off chunks of the article that don't need it...

Any thoughts on how to edit around this?

I got one - get rid of em. Too many articles have needless references to "here are a dozen more examples of this." If any example is needed, why not just leave it at Lord of the Rings and/or James Bond. Both are obvious and direct enough to illustrate the point without the need for additional examples. For that matter, the Star Wars references seem to be original research and I don't see much of a reference to Anton Chekhov here or a reference to his "gun" on Anton Chekhov's own page... - Kevingarcia 10:35, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

There are better examples from Harry Potter. Often the lessons play this role. e.g. book 3 - Snape asks the class to deliver a report on werewolves, and it turns out a teacher is one, book 6 - the class is tasked with brewing a draught of living death which features strongly in the finale, inferi are discussed early on in the story and again, play a part in the finale. The diadem is hardly a good example, not being mentioned expressly in the story. Figg & the locket are just examples that Rowling added significance to nearly all apparent minutiae, and do not play major roles later on. -- (talk) 07:22, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Too many examples[edit]

The number of examples of Chekhov's guns in this article is ridiculously large. Two would suffice; one from a historical reference, and one from a modern story.

Think about it. Look at Fly system. It does not spend the entire article giving examples of the common usage of a fly system. It has a clear, concise section, and the rest of the article actually explains the device.

This article, on the other hand, has one poorly written paragraph explaining what a Chekhov's gun is, then the rest is redundant examples and a pointless redundant quotes section. This article needs a major rewrite. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 15:10, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Did Chekhov really say this?[edit]

I placed a verification tag on the reference to Chekhov's letter.

I've read a book of his letters and there's no mention of this. Arguably there were other letters left out of the book, but not such a famous one, surely. The reference is curiously precise until we get to the space where publisher and date should be. Chekhov, I believe, never said this. I will take it back if you can verify this letter, but I wish you luck.qp10qp 00:30, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, I take it back. In the end, I did it myself, though I haven't traced this to a Chekhov letter yet (I've read three books of his letters now). But I can at last verify the quote to secondary sources. It seems Chekhov was talking to some young aspiring writers in 1889, and one, Ilia Gurliand, noted the remark down. I'll add the refs to the article. qp10qp 01:14, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Many of the examples included in this article are laughable. Many of them were obviously not yet conceived of in their entirety by their creators when the "gun" was first introduced. Specifically 24 and the West Wing.
  • BURGLE BARGLE! The outcome of a foreshadowing doesn't need to be considered when the object is introduced. Consider the origin of Tolkien's Hobbit. He wrote a sentence on a blank page handed in by a composition student and didn't come back to it until years later. And the prehistory setup of all the outcomes from his Middle Earth series were introduced in his Silmarillian which wasn't published until after his death. The gun had gone off but he didn't introduce it until he was already dead.Zerooskul (talk) 01:44, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
There are no external references included herein, and it seems that the author is grasping at straws to try to find applications of this principle. Gremlins? Really? 21:39, 21 December 2006 (Talk)
  • Yes, Gremlins! If it weren't for the MacGuffin of the smokeless ashtray and the introduction of the rules in the Chinatown curio shop (setup) Randall Peltzer's son Billy wouldn't have had that stupid adventure(follow through). And if not for the Chekov's gun setup of Randall Peltzer selling the gas station attendant a smokeless ashtray at the start of the movie Mr. Wing wouldn't have found him at the end. Yes! That is use of Chekov's gun, convoluted though it may be. Zerooskul (talk) 01:44, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Difference with plot coupon[edit]

What is the difference between this and a plot voucher/coupon. They seem exactly the same. FyiFoff 20:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC) the Gun over the Fireplace: 1) back in the day, that's where people keep the gun handy, in sight, away from the little kids on the wild west. 2) when writing, more then a movie, you have to fill in the details. We think of certain things when you say log cabin with a stone fireplace. Maybe the fire poker, or a cooking pot, or a metal device holding some wood. 3) You only say there is a gun there if, a) it relexs on the character, settings, moods etc and b) if it will be used in the third act.

REMEMBER: Act One is the intro, the good characters, the bad characters, and the conflict are all here. There is no mystery character that just shows up in Act Two or Act Three. if the little girl kills the big bad wolf with a gun; or paper work gets someone put into jail- you need to explain where it came from. Period, that's the Chekhov's gun. The "gun" is any object that the hero uses in the final act in the climax to win. The "Gun" could be simple as a character learning to keep his firm footing when fighting someone.

The plot coupon and fore shadowing is totally different. Plot coupon is written to sell books, it's a silghtly different version of this. fore shadowing is HINTING to that will happen. FyiFoffFyiFoff 20:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

  • I'll reference the Fifth Element because it's cult-pop so anybody should recognize what I mean by it.

A plot coupon is when Mr. Zorg returns to the hotel ship, he shuts off his bomb but it turns out that the Mangalores have their own bomb and they turn it on right when he turns his off so the countdown doesn't stop. There was never any indication that the Mangalores had a bomb and though we've been told they won't fight without a leader and their leader is dead. The half-dead nameless Mangalore soldier decides to use the bomb, anyway, for the honor; but Mangalore honor was never discussed, in fact they seem a very dishonorable species.

A MacGuffin is Mr. Shadow who is apparently the evil planet infiltrating the Solar system that reappears throughout the movie as a two-dimensional character whose only objective is to get the stones, and perhaps destroy Earth, and it keeps reappearing throughout the story to remind us of how ominous and dangerous it is.

The stones are a genuine plot device because they actually do something and are somehow very important to Leeloo doing her job.

Leeloo is Chekov's gun.

Chekov's gun isn't foreshadowing, it's using what you introduce. Foreshadow AND follow through. Zerooskul (talk) 02:09, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Remove Questionable Content: OR[edit]

The reference to Questionable Content seems to me to be Original Research. Thoughts? Metzby 05:51, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Anton Chekhov, a German physician and author (also considered to be one of the greatest short story writers in history), once said:

“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.”

Usage in Popular Music[edit]

I feel pedantic but in the song 'Frankestein', from the quote present, it's an allusion to the technique but not a use of the technique. Right?

Lord of the Rings example[edit]

In "The Hobbit", Bilbo Baggins finds a ring that makes him invisible. Only later is the true power of the ring revealed in "The Lord of the Rings".

I'm going to take this out, because it's just nonsense to cite this as an example of Chekhov's gun. (1) Tolkien had no idea of the true nature of the Ring when he wrote The Hobbit. (2) Bilbo starts using the ring immediately after acquiring it. (3) The true power of the Ring (to rule the other rings) is revealed in LotR, but never used -- if it's a Chekhov's gun, it's one that never goes off. 04:28, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Plot coupon#Plot vouchers[edit]

"A Plot Voucher is one of those useful items that is presented to the hero at the start of his adventure with a purpose totally unspecified, that turns out at an arbitrary point later in the story to be exactly what's needed to get him out of a sticky and otherwise unresolvable situation."

It's pretty clear to me that a "Plot voucher" is the basically the same thing as Chekov's Gun, just a different word coined by a different person. What's more, it's a section in an only-somewhat-related article. I'm going to attempt to merge it unless anyone can think of a good reason not to.--TexasDex 19:38, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Chekhov's gun is in fact completely unrelated to the idea of a plot voucher. A plot voucher, in strict usage, is an object introduced solely to get a protagonist out of a tricky situation. Chekhov's gun (especially the example cited from Uncle Vanya) is not about getting characters out of a bad situation. The gun can be used for anything as long as it is significant, and Chekhov's point is not to introduce it unless it is significant. Often the 'gun' (whatever it is) is used at a turning point, either for the plot or the character. The nature of the plot voucher is usually irrelevant; the nature of Chekhov's gun is usually very important. DJ Clayworth (talk) 15:42, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Remove or Rewrite concept reiteration?[edit]

I found the language of this sentence hard to parse:

"So the idea is not to introduce a plot element early if it is going to be used, but to not introduce the element at all if it is not going to be used."

It seemed that a reader might stumble over the confusion of possible readings:

So the idea is not to introduce a plot element early if it is going to be used...


So the idea is not to introduce a plot a plot element early if it is going to be used...

I realize that the second reading is correct, but it doesn't read well, especially as the word "not" appears three times in the sentence, used in different ways each time.

I considered rewriting it thus:

The idea is not that a writer must introduce a plot element early if it is going to be used. Rather, an element that is not going to be used should not be introduced at all.

However, I wondered if we should even try to reiterate the already clear explanation that precedes it:

" not include any unnecessary elements in a story."

I know we want this to be as clear as possible, so for now I leave it to other editors to consider whether further explanation is needed, and how best to phrase it to avoid confusion. zadignose (talk) 11:10, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Fight Club[edit]

Is the opening scene in Fight Club (where an abnormally large amount of, on second viewing, seemingly obvious spoilers are given - "I know, because Tyler knows" etc) an example of Chekhov's gun? Is it also possible that the writers were making a direct note of this that it starts looking down the barrel of a gun? 22:59, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

The hints dropped in the opening scene in Fight Club are examples of foreshadowing. Chekhov's Gun is about not providing details which are not subsequently used -- or to put it a different way, to not offer the audience false hints. If in the opening scene of Fight Club he had said "Clarence was right", that would have been an example of a violation of the Chekhov's Gun principle (because there is no future scene where a character names Clarence says something portentous). If the opening scene had lingered on a hand tattoo with no relevance to the rest of the story, that also would have been a violation of the principle. Chekhov's Gun is more about what *not* to do, than what to do. TTK (talk) 15:53, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Cut "Other Examples" section...[edit]

...and replace it with a pointer to TV Tropes?

The way I see it, it's not Wikipedia's job to list such things (and it;'s got that "irrelevant examples" banner on it). Any exhaustive examples list would overshadow the article and any non-exaustive one will have someone complaining it's not notable enough to mention the series that were mentioned. Examples are exactly what TV Tropes is about however. So like this:

""The wiki TV Tropes hosts a large list of fan-submitted examples of Chekhov's Guns in media, along with many invented sub-classifications such as "Chekhov's Armory' (a work loaded with multiple Chekhov's Guns), Chekhov's Gunman (the rule applies to characters) and Chekhov's Skill (a learned or displayed skill that will end up being important later).

Figured I should ask before taking an ax to a whole section. EllePollack (talk) 01:52, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

I totally agree with this. The section is not encyclopaedic, and the examples given are embarrassingly fanboyish. Chris Martin (talk) 11:18, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
I'd give tentative support, yes. One or two examples to make it clear how the device works, yes. Anything else is overkill. The Rhymesmith (talk) 02:39, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Currently it's changed for lack of objections, since I don't expect a flood of people weighing in, but I'll keep checking back here for a few days. EllePollack (talk) 13:31, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

I think this article is barking up the wrong tree[edit]

Seriously, with this talk of foreshadowing and the article opening with a line proclaiming that Chekov's gun being a literary device, I think it is being somewhat misinterpreted. I was always led to believe that Chekov's gun was a rule, not a device. i.e. do not have a gun hanging on the wall unless it is going to be used. Which is something completely different entirely from suggesting that if someone is to be shot in act 3 then it would be a good idea to show the gun in act 1. I am very sure Chekov's gun has nothing whatsoever to do with foreshadowing at all and think this article needs to be changed to reflect the true meaning of the rule, which is simply "don't waste paper on things that are not important to the plot and do not help drive the story forward". This article seems to get things back to front. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:11, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

I would agree with this; Chekhov's gun seems to be a plea for economy ("don't put stuff in if you aren't going to use it") rather than anything else; and stories that offend the rule (by having irrelevant packing, or extraneous characters, or plot-lines that go nowhere) are the worse for it. And none of the interpretations of the meaning are cited: Does anyone have sources that actually equate this with foreshadowing, or repetitive designation? Swanny18 (talk) 21:19, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
But then again, Chekhov's gun was a rule... it was rule of one individual... There are no REAL rules in story telling, and that is what makes story telling so interesting. You can tell it as you may.

Chekhov's gun actually in Uncle Vanya?[edit]

I just re-read Act I of Uncle Vanya and I can find no mention of a pistol, gun, shots, &c. anywhere before Vanya actually picks up the gun and shoots. Can someone please provide a citation to this device being used in Uncle Vanya, if not, the reference to Uncle Vanya should be removed! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:50, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Try the stage directions...Swanny18 (talk) 22:43, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Swanny - I did, and I don't see it there either. I've done a search on the text for gun, revolver, pistol, weapon, firearm and rifle; the gun doesn't appear until the fourth act. Furthermore, even then it isn't fired, so I don't think it has anything to do with Chekhov's rule. I think that reference is erroneous and ought to be removed. (I am not the person who posted above, btw.) ETA: My bad - it's totally fired. But it still doesn't appear until the fourth act. ...AlCracka (talk) 14:09, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Well that raises a bit of a puzzle; if the gun appears in the fourth act, then in keeping with the notion behind foreshadowing, it ought to make some kind of appearance beforehand. I haven't read the play, or seen a production of it; do you know how directors resolve this when staging it? Swanny18 (talk) 18:54, 31 January 2012 (UTC)
Swanny - The truth is the gun's not very important in Uncle Vanya, and therefore doesn't need to be foreshadowed. I wouldn't be surprised if many directors snuck it in somewhere just as a little inside joke about this rule though. ...AlCracka (talk) 13:56, 29 February 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
I'd say the gun is important, because it provides the ironic climax of the play. Vanya, always a loser, shoots point-blank at his enemy and MISSES. (talk) 22:16, 5 June 2016 (UTC)


I flagged the opening statement as dubious a while ago, with reference to this; the tag was removed, without addressing the problem, so I’ve flagged it again.
The opening statement claims Chekhov's Gun is a literary device akin to foreshadowing. As far as Chekhovs comments go, the principle of Chekhov's Gun appears to be a plea for economy; “if a gun isn’t needed later, don’t put one in” (ie anything that doesn’t contribute to the plot should be left out). In that context, a Chekhov Gun is any irrelevance or un-necessary item. It is the corollary, “if a gun is needed in the fourth act, it should be mentioned beforehand” that equates to foreshadowing.
I think the opening statement is incorrect (and is not helped by being completely unreferenced) and needs to be wholly re-written. Swanny18 (talk) 18:49, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't think it's appropriate to call it a "literary technique". If anything, it's a "rule" or "principle". -Jason A. Quest (talk) 20:16, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
I've rewritten the lede to reflect this. -Jason A. Quest (talk) 20:50, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
Hey fellas, and thanks for including me in this interesting conversation, Swanny. The funny thing about Chekhov's Gun is that as much as we talk about it these days, its entire appearance in Chekhov's writings are referenced in the article - a few off-hand comments in letters. So the debate over what it "means" is a debate over what it's come to mean in society, right? In other words, we have no idea what Chekhov had in mind. Which is neither here nor there; the opener as rewritten by Jason and anon looks great to me. The principle can be about economy or foreshadowing. Fun talk! -Al Cracka (talk) 16:13, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Mimi's cough[edit]

I can't find a source for it (opera/theater is not my "thing"), but I've always heard this concept described as "Mimi's cough". In La boheme, Mimi (one of the lead characters) enters the stage coughing violently. Two acts later, she's dead of "consumption" or some such. The only thing I've been able to find connecting the two is a page at TV Tropes calling it "[the Incurable Cough of Death]". Does anyone with more familiarity with sources in this field have anything? The absence feels glaring to me. - SummerPhD (talk) 23:01, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

The dangers of partial quoting[edit]

"How many times have you read a novel or watched a film in which a seemingly insignificant object or piece of information goes on to save the day? This, my friends, is the literary technique known as Chekhov’s Gun" - 2011

"[Chekhov's gun is] the technique whereby an element that’s meaning is not immediately evident is introduced early in a story and its significance becomes clear later on." - found on 2012

These and other assertions like them are an almost verbatim quote from the TVTropes article. They are a mistake, popularized by TVTropes, brought on by dropping the first two parts of the quote, which leads the reader to assume the quote is about foreshadowing, while the quote is actually about **removing** unnecessary elements. IsaacAA (talk) 12:25, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

But foreshadowing is not being mentioned out of context here. If someone reads this whole article, it provides the necessary context to explain that Chekhov was lecturing about economy of setting. But to insist that his admonition had nothing to do with foreshadowing ignores the recurring theme when he gave it. In his various formulations of the principle, Chekhov repeatedly used foreshadowing as an example of when an object is necessary, and it's the application of Chekhov's rule (elimination of irrelevance) that makes foreshadowing possible. To make no mention of that, leaves the article incomplete, and we can't balance the incomplete information in other articles by making this one oppositely incomplete. -Jason A. Quest (talk) 21:29, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
All the sources that link Chekhov's Gun with foreshadowing are recent, and seem to be influenced by the misapprehension of the principle popularized on the internet. IsaacAA (talk) 07:54, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
For example in this letter from November 1, 1889, Chekhov spells it out: "Он был бы у места, если бы Вы пожелали сделать из Даши не просто выходную роль и если бы он, монолог, много обещающий для зрителя, имел бы какое-нибудь отношение к содержанию или эффектам пьесы. Нельзя ставить на сцене заряженное ружье, если никто не имеет в виду выстрелить из него. Нельзя обещать. Пусть Даша молчит совсем — этак лучше." Don't make promises you won't keep. This isn't about leaving little clues to the audience, it's about taking out what might be regarded as an unfulfilled promise. IsaacAA (talk) 10:00, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
The association of this principle with foreshadowing comes from Chekhov's use of foreshadowing as an example; it is not a recent creation of the internet. The reason all of the internet mentions of it are recent is because the internet is recent. Your we-must-delete-all-mention-of-foreshadowing anger is misdirected. -Jason A. Quest (talk) 13:12, 6 October 2013 (UTC)


This doesn't make any sense. We see a house and every chair, table, sofa, cupboard is crucial to the plot? -- (talk) 13:38, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

The "rule" applies to every element of the narrative.
If the narrative specifies the action takes place in a house, that is the setting. The "rule" would apply only if the location were totally irrelevant to the story. (Stage directions for Annie likely specify certain scenes taking place in an orphanage. The scenes would make sense if they took place at, say, a summer camp.) The narrative might mention a character sitting: Thus we need a chair. If the narrative mentions a red IKEA task chair, Chekhov's rule would demand a reason for it being red, from IKEA and a task chair. If the narrative says there is a gun on the wall, Chekhov is saying there must be a reason for it being there or it should not be specified. Stage directions generally do not -- and, according to Chekhov, should not -- specify props, furniture, etc. unless the items are necessary to the story. Stage directions for "Deathtrap" specify a collection of weapons displayed on the wall because they are used in the story. If the same directions specified fishing gear in the corner, this would violate Chekhov's "rule" (as fishing gear is completely irrelevant to the story). - SummerPhD (talk) 15:00, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Chekhov's Gun isn't an absolute rule, it is a style of writing. For a different style, take the long description of the boarding house's dining room in Balzac's OLD GORIOT -- the objects are there not because they are necessary for the plot, but because they are clues to the psychology or social class of the characters. (talk) 22:16, 5 June 2016 (UTC)

Shchukin citation[edit]

Sorry if this is the wrong place to make this comment. I am not an experienced editor. Reference #4 is incomplete. I have the original in front of me. Also, I don't have the Cyrillic, so my reference is a mix of English and transliterated Russian. But it should make it easier for the next person to access it. Shchukin, Sergius. "Memoirs," Russkai︠a︡ myslʹ [Russian Thought], 1911, p. 44. TackyJulieToo (talk) 13:22, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Embodiment of Chekhov's Gun in Media[edit]

David Mamet's film "Heist" has a wonderful line that almost embodies the concept of Chekhov's gun. Sam Rockwell's upstart thief emerges from the shadows to reveal that Gene Hackman's wife is now with him. Hackman asks her "Is he going to shoot me", she replies "not if you cooperae", he says "then he ought not point a gun at me. It's insincere." This seems like an almost lyrical example. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Spawn777 (talkcontribs) 11:18, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

TackyJulieToo: I added what you had along with the original Cyrillic:

С.Н. Щукина [Sergius Shchukin] (1911). "Воспоминаний" [Memoirs]. Русская Мысль [Russian Thought]: 44. 

Will this do? Rebbing 17:32, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Thank you! TackyJulieToo (talk) 14:10, 27 December 2016 (UTC)