Created By: ThePope on March 28, 2013 Last Edited By: ThePope on November 17, 2014

Unprovoked Offensive

Someone initiates conflict with someone else without any provocation or warning

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This is when either a person or a group (oftentimes a country) initiates a conflict on another without any provocation. While most wars are started because tensions between these two groups worsens, or because one group wants the other's land, food, women, etc., this is when the two groups appear to be on good terms and in general peacetime, when suddenly one of them attacks the other for no reason and initiates war.


Examples:

Literature
  • Such an attack is the climax of the first Safehold book, Off Armageddon Reef, in which the Group of Four, leaders of the Church of God Awaiting decide to force the major naval powers of the world to wipe out Charis out of fear of their innovative natures.

Live-Action TV
  • The Battlestar Galactica reimagining started with the Cylons launching a surprise nuclear attack on all 12 Colony worlds after decades of peace, annihilating most of the human population.

Tabletop Games
  • Starfire scenario "The Paurl Harbor Raid". The Rigellians started their war with the Khanate of Orion by sending their carriers to destroy Khanate battleships "at anchor" in Paurl Harbor (a Shout-Out to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor).

Real Life
  • Some German invasions of countries during World War II, starting with Poland, September 1st 1939 (followed by Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, etc.)
  • The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941.
  • The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, August 2nd 1990.

Video Games
  • In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, Yuktobania declaring war on Osea and attacking in force within hours after that is presented as such. However, it is later revealed that both sides have been covertly provoked by a third party until one of them snapped and retaliated, believing that the other "knew what they did".
  • In Xenoblade, it's eventually revealed that Zanza attacked the Mechonis without provocation while the people of Mechonis and Bionis were previously at peace.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • March 28, 2013
    helterskelter
    I'm sensing a bit of Trope Namer Syndrome from this. There's nothing in the title that tells me that this is about a sudden provocation.
  • March 28, 2013
    Arivne
    Surprise First Attack?

    (because surprise attacks after the war is underway don't count)

    Tabletop Games
    • Starfire scenario "The Paurl Harbor Raid". The Rigellians started their war with the Khanate of Orion by sending their carriers to destroy Khanate battleships "at anchor" in Paurl Harbor (a Shout Out to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor).

    Real Life
    • Some German invasions of countries during World War II, starting with Poland, September 1st 1939 (followed by Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, etc.)
    • The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941.
    • The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, August 2nd 1990.
  • March 29, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    This really strikes me as a forced trope namer. The name doesn't describe the trope that well. It sounds more like it's about, well, an attack changing everything, except that even then "the fire nation" could have been replaced with just "they."

    But if it's about attacks that were unprovoked and/or unexpected in general, it needs a title that reflects that.
  • March 29, 2013
    ThePope
    Fine, you guys are no fun.
  • March 29, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ You know what else is no fun? Someone wanting to know what the trope is getting the wrong impression because of a misleading title.
  • March 30, 2013
    Koveras
    • In Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War, Yuktobania declaring war on Osea and attacking in force within hours after that is presented as such. However, it is later revealed that both sides have been covertly provoked by a third party until one of them snapped and retaliated, believing that the other "knew what they did".
  • March 30, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    The Battlestar Galactica reimagining started with the Cylons launching a surprise nuclear attack on all 12 Colony worlds after decades of peace, annihilating most of the human population.
  • March 30, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Do these count?

    • In (at least the film adaptation of) The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, the battle at Helm's Deep is started a bit early when an old man accidentally looses an arrow, killing one of the Uruk-hai and driving his comrades into a frenzy. That being said, the army waits for their leader to signal an attack before charging.

    • Invoked in The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, where after defeating the evil king in an arranged one-on-one duel, Peter (and Caspian) both refuse to finish him off. The king's general then slays him by stabbing him with one of Susan's arrows, using it to claim that the king was killed unfairly.
  • March 30, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Oh yes, speaking of the Pearl Harbor incident, it should be noted that Japan (general Yamamoto, at least) meticulously planned to strike only after delivering their official declaration to Washington. The problem was it took too long to transmit, translate, and deliver the message to Washington, so the US learned about the attack before about the declaration. (There was also apparently some debate inside Japan over whether or not they even wanted to make a declaration before attacking at all.)
  • March 30, 2013
    sgamer82
    • Such an attack is the climax of the first Safehold book, Off Armageddon Reef, in which the Group of Four, leaders of the Church of God Awaiting decide to force the major naval powers of the world to wipe out Charis out of fear of their innovative natures.
  • November 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Does it have to be a large scale conflict? Can it be simply a Blood Knight randomly picking fights with people?

    Dunno about the mention of "because one want the other's resource, wealth etc". That makes the examples being supposed to be purposeless wars.
  • November 16, 2014
    ThePope
    The line about wanting resources and wealth and etc. is supposed to be a counter-example.

    While most wars are started because tensions between these two groups worsens, or because one group wants the other's land, food, women, etc., this is when the two groups appear to be on good terms and in general peacetime, when suddenly one of them attacks the other for no reason and initiates war.

    Doesn't need to be a large-scale conflict. Just when someone attacks someone else for no visible reason when the two parties should've been on good terms.
  • November 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Just saying: in Avatar, Sozin declared war on the world as a way to "share the Fire Nation's prosperity". So Fire Nation technically didn't attack without reason. (Thing is, as Roku said, the world doesn't need Fire Nation's prosperity, let alone it being delivered by colonialism.)

    Does that still count here? I kinda doubt it.
  • November 16, 2014
    ThePope
    That's still not a sane reason to attack and conquer. And from the rest of the world's point of view, it was completely unprovoked.
  • November 17, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I see.

    I believe you should mention Sozin's intentions up there for more context.

    Related to Inexplicable Villainy
  • November 17, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    "<...> this is when the two groups appear to be on good terms and in general peacetime, when suddenly one of them attacks the other for no reason and initiates war." It may be a reason someone doesn't like, but there's never "no reason." Looks to fall under Administrivia.No Real Life Examples Please, villain section.
  • November 17, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ nonsense. It is just written as "no reason", not "bad reason". What's your point?

    And yeah, perhaps talking about RL examples here is a bit too risque.
  • November 17, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^ "You attacked for no reason" is a complaint (laconic doesn't have it; generic example in the description does). I don't understand what you mean by nonsense.

    Edit: On second thought, laconic isn't that much more objective either.
  • November 17, 2014
    Bisected8
  • November 17, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Maybe I have to agree on losing the "no reason" part, but my reasoning would be that the point of this trope is about, well, unprovoked offense.

    ...which would mean acts of stickup and robbery (and sometimes serial killing) would count here?
  • November 17, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^ Proper objectivity in this would be to acknowledge some morality standpoint as the system of coordinates, I think.

    Another solution would be even more simple. Make the plot element trope about just any war starting. How do the sides justify who's unprovoked and who needs to cease polluting the planet by existing — would go into example's context. Or is there such a supertrope already?
  • November 17, 2014
    Daefaroth
    ^Or it could be shifted from the more subjective "attacking for no reason" to a more objective "attacking without formally declaring war first"
  • November 17, 2014
    DAN004
    Again, I don't think it has to involve a war.
  • November 17, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^ It doesn't have to, judging from the title, laconic and description, yes. But examples are strongly geared toward war conflicts. Hence the confusion. Or not a confusion. The original poster should decide.
  • November 17, 2014
    nielas
    All the examples listed fall under "bad reason" or "one-sided reason" rather than "no reason at all". Provocation is also tricky because anything can be treated as provocation to justify an attack. eg. Japan felt that US actions were a provocation and a threat to Japan's survival and thus attacked Pearl Harbour.
  • November 17, 2014
    ThePope
    "Premature Strike"?
  • November 17, 2014
    DAN004
    None of the examples explain how they were "unprovoked" in any way.
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