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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Seven Seals: Took out this addition to the The Matrix example: "This could also be looked upon as an example of Shooting the Dog, as it is something that must be done to serve the greater good. However, it's never actually referred to this way."

Shooting the dog is about characters doing something amoral in a moral world, to make sure the heroes don't have to, or to show their Anti-Hero side. This simply doesn't apply to the world of The Matrix: the message is overwhelmingly that there's nothing immoral about killing people and blowing shit up in a virtual world. No character even shows hesitation about committing murder, even if it's murder "for the greater good".

Kimiko Muffin: I submit that the Path of Neo example isn't necessarily a good one, since the "victim-to-be" isn't actually a real person (an ingame NPC — a meta-NPC, maybe?), but I can see how the "just pretend he's your old boss" recommendation still stands.

Caswin: I think that the "no hesitation" thing, if I'm reading this right, was covered in how it points out it's never referred to as such. It might not be shooting the dog, insofar as that page specifically describes someone other than the hero Doing What Needs to Be Done, but it's not hard to see what the original author of that line was getting at. They kill cops and soldiers because the authorities are in turn trying to kill them, and I doubt they're alone in the realm of fiction in using that excuse. (Not that there wasn't probably a better way to handle that little misunderstanding, something the script glosses over, but that's a different matter.) As it is, the entry makes it sound like they're killing people, antagonistic or otherwise, willy-nilly, which simply isn't true.

gamer9190: Morpheus explains this, albeit briefly, in the first movie. "The Matrix is a system, Neo, and that system is our enemy. But look around. What do you see? Doctors, lawyers, teachers, carpenters; the very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, they are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy.... Anyone who is not one of us, is one of them." Them refers to Agents. His point is that any blue pill can spontaneously turn into a person that is pretty well guaranteed to kill them.

TTD: In any case, it seems the "Matrix" examples would be happier in What Measureis A Non Super.


A Carlssin: I've forgotten too many details to make a coherent contribution, so maybe someone else can flesh this out: There was a Doctor Who episode with aliens that look like C'Thulhu. At the end of the episode, the Doctor saves all the humans, but not the aliens, because he "didn't have time". Yeah, right.

Ununnilium: Well, basically, only a few people got saved at all.

Bionic-Sun: They were called the Ood (not the "Odd" as I've heard people call them). By the way, would the Toclafane (from the New Series 3 finale) count as non-human?

Flyairth: I'd say the Toclafane should really be considered human in the same way the Cybermen are. Pretty much damaged beyond repair, which apparently makes them fair game in the eyes of the characters. And as for the Ood example, yeah, I'd agree that the Doctor showed a nice bit of his (in)famous favouritism by saving the (four or so) humans rather than the (thirty or so) Ood.
Seth: I know its only a minor semantic issue. But wouldn't What Value Is A Non Human suit this better?

Kimiko Muffin: It's an inversion of the phrase "What measure is a man?" I'm not exactly sure what it's a quote of specifically ...

Oracle Hunter: I think Seth's point was the spelling error of "Measureisa" instead of "Measure Is A." I agree it should be redirected.


Kimiko Muffin: I don't remember the Return of the Jedi example (the scene of droids being tortured) being played for laughs ... in fact, I interpreted it as being like the Transformers variation of "it's okay to show violence inflicted on them that you'd never get away with if it was humans."

That'd be Getting Crap Past the Radar. I agree, but I'll wait for a third guy to take it out/move it. —Document N


Harpie Siren: That Kingdom Hearts entry, boy howdy, can you say Thread Mode?

Kizor: When I try, it comes out sounding like "ass!"

Tragic The Dragon: I didn't realize the "Kingdom Hearts" example was going to be such a can of worms back when I added it. <:( I'll try to clean it up some.

Bob!: My God! What have I done? I just wanted to include the different viewpoint from the Draco in Leather Pants article and now I've opened a Pandoras Box. I'm... I'm so sorry everyone.

Tragic The Dragon: Naw, man, it's cool. Heck, the fact that the issue has spawned such a debate speaks to the many, many ramifications of this trope.

Yogi: To put this all in perspective, if Orginization XIII were normal flesh and blood humans who destroyed universes to get their way, would it have been morally questionable to kill them? Sora has beaten to death sentient humans before, like Captain Hook, Shan Yu, Maleficent, and Clayton. As such, Sora treats Orginization XIII the same as he treats everyone else. He's willing to make friends with them, but if they try to harm him or his friends they should update their life insurance policy first.

Harpie Siren: What is one of the first things the Org. does after they introduce themselves in Kingdom Hearts 2? They are screwing with the Beast's head! They. Are. Messing. With. A. Friend. Of. Sora's. All bets are off now, because It's Personal. Just like Yogi said... ... Y'know, this whole "Sora 'murdered' the Organazation" mindset the most annoying thing about the Kingdom Hearts fandom... Yes, they're sympathic... but they weren't sitting around having tea and cookies, they were killing people! You saw what Luxord was going to do to Port Royal!

Yogi: Several additional points.
  • First, Organization XIII aren't just leveling towns, invading countries, herding Jews into death camps, or even blowing up planets. Nope, these people are collapsing Universes Note the 's' in "Universes". This is evil that has we have no real frame of reference about, since no one in real life has actually been this evil before.
  • Second, part of being a sentient being is taking responsibilities for your actions. Hence, the "Xemnas manipulated them" excuse doesn't work.
  • As an add-on to the previous statement, if Xemnas was really the only evil one manipulating everyone else, then Sora had a responsibility to stop him, even after he found Kairi and Riku, and continue on until Xemnas was destroyed.
  • Third, Di Z had already destroyed the false Kingdom Hearts, meaning Organization XIII would have had to start all over. Hence, Organization XII could not be considered harmless.

  • Lastly, if they did get their hearts, AND assuming the process of getting their hearts is itself harmless to others, AND assuming that this group of superpowered sociopaths won't actually do anything evil ever again, there's still the matter of Justice.

Harpie Siren: Yes. Somebody finally gets it! And about Xemnas, I find it very hard to believe that Xemnas's motivation was getting his heart back, I think that it was part of how he got the neophytes into the Org.

Yogi: To be perfectly fair, Kingdom Hearts does have aspects of this trope. Most Human enemies when defeated manage to escape or otherwise survive (Hook, Riku, the Final Fantasy characters) or are only killed when in their monster form (Maleficent, Jafar), while the non-humans generally die. Then again, Clayton, Shan Yu, and Barbossa are killed while Pete lives to fight another day. I wouldn't say this is trope-worthy.

Harpie Siren: Well, when it comes to the Human enemies they're bound to the Disney movies... their deaths are going to mirror the way they died in their respective films. And we can't kill Pete!

Unknown Troper: Yes, it's clear from the ending that Xemnas was just carrying on his original self's goal of universal domination.

Yogi: So . . . if we're mostly in agreement, what should we do about the entry for Kingdom Hearts?

TTD: My God, What Have I Done?! <:...(

My main point, the thing that bothered me the most about the game, one of the key reasons why I greatly disliked it compared to the first one, the issue I could not get over and the reason I added it as an example in the first place: You - as Sora - are asked to kill off all these Nobodies after you - the player - have spent an approximately five hour long prologue playing as one of them. (Granted, my bigger issue with the game is the fact that the prologue had no good God damn reason being five hours long.) Add that back in and let it go. Please. (That goes triple for the Organization Shut the Hell Up and Stop Interrupting the Plot fangirls. Get a life. Also, "Chain of Memories" sucked.)

Now, does Man After Man (see Let's Meet the Meat) fit this Trope or no? (Are the heavily mutated characters on Earth still technically human? What about the invaders?)

Yogi: Once again, does replacing "Nobody" with "Human" spark similar outrage? What about the other games where you, as a human, have to kill other humans?

Cromage: Weighed in on the Kingdom Hearts 2 entry. I question just how much of it has to do with this trope. Especially the apparent confusion regarding the fates of Shan Yu and Pete. Has it occurred to people that it may have nothing to do with their relative humanness?

Harpie Siren: What confusion? Shan-Yu, a human, died, Peg-Leg Pete, a cat, didn't. Pete has Contractual Immortatility, they cannot kill-off a classic Disney Toon, while anyone who had seen Mulan could guess Shan-Yu's fate before the game was released.... (And I wonder if people have realized that Barbossa had to become human before he could die?)

In short, how "Human" a character is has nothing to do with their fate. Humans were killed (Barbossa, Shan-Yu) Sapient animals were killed (Scar). Supernatural Creatures were killed (Urusla, Oogie Boogie) and "Nobodies" were killed. Mentally, they were all basically human, they were also all evil, and justice had to be served. Tell me how that's confusing?

Cromage: It's not. Hence my use of the word "apparent." And hence my edit, which removed the suggestion that it was confusing.

TTD: Alright. I'm just going to stick this under the RPG example:

And as my final thought on the subject, congratulations on being the first person to ever Godwin anything I've ever written on the internet, Yogi. O_o

Joe Grim:

The real moral confusion about Organization XIII is that it's actually possible to argue that they were acting in a form of self-defense. Their ultimate goal (excepting possibly Xemnas) wasn't world domination, ultimate power or killing for fun; these things were all secondary goals with the ultimate ambition of simply becoming living human beings again. Even legally, one is allowed to use lethal force against an innocent who may be unaware if it's a life or death situation.

Roughly speaking, they're comparable to, say, an Anne Rice vampire, who has to kill in order to stay alive. In the Organization's case, they had to kill in order to become alive. The fact that they were wiping out entire worlds is mitigated by this fact, at least to some extent.

Of course, the same argument justifies Sora killing Organization members.


Mith: Removed an example due to a small but crippling inclarity:
  • The second example of What Measure Is A Non Human is brought up in Dungeon Siege II: Broken World. Even though a lot of peoples' friends and loved ones have been turned into murderous Bound creatures and insane Rogue Magi, said people still get mad at you for killing him. As a matter of fact, only the first questgiver in the game sees the wisdom of what you needed to do.
Who's "him"? Some boss? Said friends and loved ones?

Demetrios: Sorry about that. I meant to say "them", referring to the Bound creatures.
  • Fixed it.

Silent Hunter: I have my own version of this: What Measure Is A Fictional Character. I will advocate things happening to fictional characters that I would not for real people. Most notably my desire to chuck Horatio Caine into a swamp.
Fast Eddie: Too many quotes
Alfred: You're going to kill him?!
Batman: Dracula isn't a man. He's a monster.
"Number" Johnny Five: What? He locked you up? He did not smash, crush, dent, mangle you?
Fred: Naw, he just wanted us out of the way.
"Number" Johnny Five: Sure...kidnap the humans, destroy the "machine!"
Short Circuit 2

Detective Del Spooner: I thought you were dead.
Sonny: Technically I was never alive, but I appreciate your concern.
I, Robot

Bob!: Some cleanup. Removed from The Matrix example:

  • On top of which, they did have that other "fault" of, well, shooting at the heroes and trying to kill them, albeit because they thought they were terrorists, making them more casualties of war than anything.

Because it's a Justifying Edit.

Edited the Justice League example. Saved here.

  • Used... interestingly... in the Justice League. Robots and gooey white aliens are destroyed without anyone blinking, no matter what they look like, and the latter can be painfully fried out of a human form by the Heroes and villains. Non-speaking villains get slaughtered easily, as do speaking giant monsters and things with too many tentacles. Characters that kill a sympathetic human-cat hybrid villain or an enslaved cybernetic jellyfish both manage to make a Heel-Face Turn, although the human-cat hybrid is also saved by an animation error. During a World War II sequence, the heroes manage to destroy a lot of machinery and bloodlessly shoot a lot of guns out of Nazi hands, but don't really bother saving the bad guys from gravity or the naturally ensuing explosions. However, directly killing any normal humans, human-like aliens, or alternate dimension illusions is unacceptable, no matter how insane, murderous, violent, or dangerous the individual has demonstrated themselves to be. Daring to violate Lex Luthor's Joker Immunity quickly sends Superman Jumping Off the Slippery Slope toward revoking the rights to freedom of speech and regular votes in an alternate universe.

Solomon Grundy killing Cheeta is non-canonical, as proven by her appearance in Justice League Unlimited episode "Kid Stuff". Also, I left it in for now, but I'd like to question the accuracy of the "Non-speaking villains get slaughtered easily, as do speaking giant monsters" part. I can't think of any non-speaking villains getting slaughtered, and which giant monsters are you referring to?

Loki Lie-Smith: The battle at the end of Starcrossed, when Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman (of all people!) blow up all the Thanagarian fighters. No one's seen to eject. The giant monster referred to was probably Icthultu, but to me that doesn't seem that problematic, given that it was an Eldritch Abomination that ate souls.

Caswin: Putting back the Matrix example because, as I've mentioned above, it's a legitimate reason; the main entry is a distortion of what takes place in the movie.

Anonymous: Cut an example from D&D, it seems more "I can't railroad the PCS waaaah" rant than an actual example. Preserved Here.
  • It's entirely possible to knock out enemies under 3rd edition, too. The problem is not that you are forced to kill them when they're unconscious already (that would be silly), but rather getting them to 0 hitpoints with only subdual (nonlethal) damage; something which is much harder than simply causing lethal damage, unless the Player Character took specific feats (a few exist for pacifistic characters) or prestige classes like i.e. the Bloodhound (a bounty hunter) just so that he could do nonlethal damage without penalties to his attack and damage. Sure, the monk class or certain spells can stun an enemy for a short time, during which he will drop his weapons, and items like tanglefoot bags or Grapple rules allow to subdue someone by glueing them to the floor or wrestling them to the ground and putting them in a headlock until they pass out. But while every character can technically initiate a grapple attack, unless you take special feats a grapple attacks means the enemy you're attempting to grab gets a free counter-attack against you first. The game designers of 3rd edition specifically stated in the Dungeon Masters Guide that they removed any option of simply knocking someone out with one or two punches to the face or a club to the head because it could be used against the player characters as well! And, you know, we couldn't have that. Consequently, it's hard to take NonPlayerCharacters captive alive, and it's also almost impossible for the gamemaster to have NonPlayerCharacters take the PlayerCharacters captive alive even if the plot requires it. Really, it's almost easier to just kill someone and then raise them from the dead. *sigh*


Added a few things in the [1] entry, including the fact that the heroes didn't leave the Vagrant AI's to fend for themselves. Please forgive me if I acted out of partistanship.
The 90's Ghost Rider spent a lot of time being mentally ill/unsure of his duties. And heck, Blackout tried to slaughter his family how many times? I'd certainly pop a cap in his butt.