Created By: kreature on May 23, 2012 Last Edited By: kreature on May 30, 2012

Like Squashing A Bug

A character does horrible things to others with the nonchalantness of someone stepping on an insect

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Most people in fiction treat hurting or killing someone as a pretty big deal and have a similarly large emotional response to it. Not this guy. This guy could murder you eight ways to Sunday without any significant reaction or feeling during or afterwards. Maybe he's a sociopath, maybe he's been completely desensitized to violence, maybe he's been lead to believe you aren't actually living or real, all you know is he treats the act of killing you like a kid would treat the act of breaking a toy he didn't play with anyway.

Most common with executioners, assassins and the Soft-Spoken Sadist, this trope refers specifically to a character commiting a murder or other harmful act and going about it with extreme coolness and detachedment, and afterwards having no strong reactions or memories to the act. Often the sign of at best an extremely battle-hardened warrior, at worst an apathetic Complete Monster who destroys lives as often and easily as any routine chore. Goes hand-in-hand with But for Me, It Was Tuesday.


  • In the animated movie Superman: Doomsday, Lex Luthor asks his assisstent Mercy if the evidence of their involvment in the events leading to Superman's apparent death is covered. When she assures him yes, he shoots her in the head almost as an afterthought.

  • Rarer non-villainous example in the film adaptation of RED, Hero Antagonist CIA Agent Cooper calls his wife and kids to wish them a good day, while in front of him there's a guy tied up and standing on a chair with a noose around his neck. He hangs up, pulls the chair from under the man, and calls his boss to let her know he completed the assignment all without missing a beat.
Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • May 23, 2012
    I recall a Real Life story about a US soldier intentionally harming foreign civilians saying something like that. I don't remember how long ago it was but i think it happened a few months ago. Needless to say he got (or is going to be) court-martialed.
  • May 23, 2012
    I can already say that this definitely needs to be No Real Life Examples. I am not certain if it is tropable either.
  • May 23, 2012
    The OP could give us at least one example if he really thinks it's tropeable.
  • May 25, 2012
    Lampshaded in Tales of the Abyss. Luke fon Fabre can barely bring himself to kill a human enemy (or at least when he's in a cutscene).
  • May 26, 2012
    Averted in The Incredibles. When Mr. Incredible is captured by Syndrome, he manages to grab Mirage and threatens to kill her if he isn't set free. "It'll be easy, like breaking a toothpick." Syndrome calls his bluff, and he releases her.
  • May 26, 2012
    didn't an espada in Bleach call his foe insects? Baraggan i think
  • May 26, 2012
    This reminds me of the YKTTW we had a while ago about someone Kicking The Dog by casually murdering people. I even provided an example for it from The Boondock Saints, which I will reuse here:

    • The hitman that Rocco drove to his job in The Boondock Saints is called a "sick fuck" by Rocco for his emotionless manner and the casual way that he murders people. "This guy takes out a whole family -- wife, kids, everyone -- like he's ordering a fucking pizza."
  • May 26, 2012
    Loki in the new movie Avengers says something like this. then the later the leader of shield does to, but its a late retort to loki, not something he would say unprompted. Loki uses the word ant, not bug.
  • May 30, 2012
    Pitiful Worms is already this trope.