Risking the King YKTTW Discussion

Risking the King
Sending crucial personel into harms way when other more qualified mooks are available
(permanent link) added: 2011-11-07 14:05:55 sponsor: bertrc (last reply: 2012-02-16 20:11:19)

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"There is an unknown threat on that unstable derelict ship, capable of wiping out an entire starfleet crew. I could send a fully armed squad of trained security personel, but instead I will send a team comprised of my chief science officer, my only physician and myself, the captain of the ship." -- liberally paraphrased from Captain Kirk

Sometimes a story-teller has the main characters do everything; sometimes the writer simply wants to hurry up and bring about a climactic fight. Regardless of the reason, story-tellers will often have crucial characters run pelmell into dangerous situations when more qualified (or, at least, more appropriate) people are perfectly available. This is akin to sending your king out to capture pieces in chess.

Not to be confused with challenging the chief in which, to preserve their honor, the boss agrees to fight one on one in spite of an existing tactical advantage.

The trope codifier, as implied above above, is the original Star Trek series, where every crucial command officer would regularly be assigned to the away team for some dangerous new environment. It was largely subverted in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" where the captain would stay on the bridge and dedicated away teams would be put together for specific trips.

In the book trilogy "His Dark Materials", the ruler of the multiverse, Metatron, identifies Mrs. Coulter as a woman whose entire life is based on betrayal, yet he willingly goes alone with her to ambush Lord Asriel instead of sending a legion of mooks. Lord Asriel, meanwhile, plans this elaborate setup to catch and kill Metatron but decides to spring the trap on one of the most powerful beings alive with only himself instead of with a platoon of heavies. To top it off, they both decide to go unarmed (although there is probably a different trope for this).

Subtrope of Acceptable Breaks from Reality.

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