Created By: dsollenOctober 15, 2012 Last Edited By: rolranxOctober 16, 2012
Nuked

Why don't you just assasinate him?

When a foe with immensely powerful offensive abilities is treated as unstoppable when he still is mortal and easily killable

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Bob can throw fireballs from his hands, shoot lasers from his eyes, can do a Foe Tossing Charge, knows dangerous techniques that man should not know, and can telepathically control chihuahuas. He is so immensely powerful he can level towns, and this power is so legendary that his enemies are too terrified to confront him. Villain's plan to avoid him for fear of confronting him, he's just too invincible to deal with directly.

Except that Bob is still mortal. Despite all the power he possesses, or how much overkill he can bring to a battle he's a mortal man that dies just as easily as the next person. One well aimed bullet, wisely used poison, properly timed explosion, or knife cut while he is sleeping is all it takes to remove the threat of Bob permanently. A preemptive assassination, before Bob knows what's happening so he can't use any of his immense powers, is the clear, pragmatic solution to prevent having to face a legend in a fair fight. And yet no one in the story every thinks to do this, or if the idea is suggested they will never follow through with it.

This trope is often a Necessary Weasel. The author wants to keep Bob vulnerable because a character that is never in danger is boring to watch. However, a story in which your main hero, or villain, is killed in the first episode by someone wise enough to assassinate him with poison wouldn't be very interesting either. So the author keeps Bob mortal and hopes no one thinks about it on the way to their fridge.

This trope only refers to preemptive killing of individuals who are themselves a powerful threat. It does not include assassination of heads of states or others who rule over large/dangerous forces but are not themselves physically (or magically) threatening.

This is a subset of Why Dont You Just Shoot Him. However, while Why Dont You Just Shoot Him refers to any situation where a villain refuses to kill an opponent directly this trope specifically refers to situations where preemptive assassination attempt is the the logical (or only) method of dealing with a foe due to the power level of the foe being so great that any direct fight is considered too dangerous.


Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comic Book]]
  • Tommy Monaghan once faced a gunman who was a "twitch machine": no conscious volition, just bang you're dead, so Monaghan's telepathy would not give him any warning. So Tommy just distracted him while his friend snuck up behind the gunman and shot him in the back of the head
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
  • In Fanfic/youveGottaBeKiddingMe, it's averted; direct and indirect means are used to end the protagonist's life, but between the fact that she's Properly Paranoid and that she's got very solid arguments that sway whoever bothers to listen to her, given enough time, it doesn't matter if you try to poison her food or send an armada at her, she'll make it alive.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
  • Dresden slowly develops into The Dreaded as others hear about his exploits. It's made clear that he has single handedly driven the worst monsters away from Chicago, and yet he is almost as squishy as any human being. One character once threatened to kill him with a sniper rifle-which he admitted would be a simple and effective solution-and more then one enemy used strategically placed explosives to provide them with a means of killing a wizard without fighting him directly. Yet, no one actually followed through on these threats Until Changes.
  • Averted in Discworld, and then subverted; the Assassin's guild has been trying to murder Sam Vimes for a while, but he's set an amazing number of clever booby traps that have claimed the lives of many would-be assassins. Later, there is a conspicuous absence of assassination attempts... because the Assassins have decided that his death would be too damaging for the overall political game of the city.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comic ]]

  • In How I Killed Your Master, this is how the main character's father was killed; the Big Bad couldn't possible have beaten him in a straight fight, so he poisoned him.

[[/folder]]


Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • October 15, 2012
    dsollen
    This is a basic description. Obviously I need more examples, and the trope itself can be fleshed out. I don't know how available I will be to maintain this, so anyone is welcome to take over the trope and extend it in my place; but I think something of the like should exist as a trope.

    Incidentally, the trope name is horrible. I would use "why don't you just shoot him" if it wasn't already taken. Suggestions for better trope names are welcome!
  • October 15, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In How I Killed Your Master, this is how the main character's father was killed; the Big Bad couldn't possible have beaten him in a straight fight, so he poisoned him.
  • October 15, 2012
    dsollen
    clearly I have something wrong with the tags here. anyone able to tell me what it is?
  • October 15, 2012
    captainpat
    As far as the description see Example As A Thesis. Do not use an example to describe your trope. Examples belong under the example section.
  • October 15, 2012
    IlVit
    I think this is too similar to Why Don't You Just Shoot Him. They're both tropes about people hesitating to kill someone that is troubling them even though they could easily just kill them.
  • October 15, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    ^no, this ykttw is about "if he's too tough to beat in a straight-up fight, bushwhack him". Or the failure of characters to try that obvious step.

    Example from DC comic's Hitman: Tommy Monaghan once faced a gunman who was a "twitch machine": no conscious volition, just bang you're dead, so Monaghan's telepathy would not give him any warning. So Tommy just distracted him while his friend snuck up behind the gunman and shot him in the back of the head.

  • October 15, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Real Life

    At the onset of the First Gulf (US-Iraq) War, there was a lot of armchair-quarterbacking among Americans, wondering why we didn't just have Saddam Hussein shot (maybe getting the Mossad to do it somehow), as if such a thing would really be that simple, or would have gotten the Iraqi army to leave Kuwait peacefully.
  • October 15, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Also, any time-travel scenario that posits killing Hitler as a boy, or before he took power, would have prevented World War II. Although perhaps it might have prevented the mechanized slaughter of Jews--but Himmler was the architect of much of that, and if a revanchist, fascistic party like the Nazis would have still arose out of the bitter ashes of World War I and the German Depression, given that there was a lot of anti-Semitism in Germany and much of Europe, who knows if someone like Himmler would have found a niche there?
  • October 16, 2012
    KarjamP
    No New Stock Phrases or dialog-based titles for names.

    Even if this is a snowclone of Why Dont You Just Shoot Him.
  • October 16, 2012
    TheHandle
    Well, you're welcome to suggest a new title. I think this one is very appropriate. Unexplained Absence Of Assassination Attempts?

    Averted in Discworld, and then subverted; the Assassin's guild has been trying to murder Sam Vimes for a while, but he's set an amazing number of clever booby traps that have claimed the lives of many would-be assassins. Later, there is a conspicuous absence of assassination attempts... because the Assassins have decided that his death would be too damaging for the overall political game of the city.

    In Myouve Gotta Be Kidding Me, it's averted; direct and indirect means are used to end the protagonist's life, but between the fact that she's Properly Paranoid and that she's got very solid arguments that sway whoever bothers to listen to her, given enough time, it doesn't matter if you try to poison her food or send an armada at her, she'll make it alive.
  • October 16, 2012
    rolranx
    I've added the examples included, though I still am doing something wrong with my syntax for folder control somehow....

    I'm not committed to the title (even if it is far better then my original) but I would argue that No New Stock Phrases issue doesn't apply here. The title is mostly a snowclone and doesn't emphasis the phrase itself; and the phrase *isn't* a stock phrase (when's the last time you heard it actually said in fiction?). As I read through the trope none of the potential issues seem to apply to it's use here. Still, if anyone has a better title to suggest I'm happy to change it.

    I also argue this is different distinct enough from Why Dont You Just Shoot Him to warrant being a child trope. Perhaps though I need to better describe how this distinct/more explicit then it's parent to avoid confusion when new tropes read it? what do others think?

    Finally, I concede the argument about Example As A Thesis. I haven't changed it yet because I couldn't figure out how to describe the trope in a better/clearer manner without the trope though. If anyone has any suggestion for how to do so I'm happy to hear them. Or for that manner suggestions on how to flesh out the trope; I'm new to writing tropes so constructive criticism is welcome.
  • October 16, 2012
    nielas
    Folder tags do not work properly in YKTTW.
  • October 16, 2012
    rolranx
    thank you niehas. Ironically I figured that out about 10 minutes after posting the last reply.

    I just added a bullet point stating that this doesn't apply to killing head of state, as I feel that doesn't fit with the intent of the trope as I wrote it. I wanted to link to the trope that would cover assassination of heads of state as part of a compare/contrast statement; but, while I'm certain that trope has to exist, I don't know what the trope is to link it. Any help?
  • October 16, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^^ Doesn't mean we can't still use them as if they do.
  • October 16, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • October 16, 2012
    Fighteer
    <Moderator Note> This is a form of Fridge Logic if it is not brought up In Universe, and if it is, it's Why Dont Ya Just Shoot Him. Ergo, it is not a distinct trope. I am discarding it.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable