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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
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(permanent link) added: 2012-10-15 10:54:40 sponsor: dsollen edited by: rolranx (last reply: 2012-10-16 12:51:19)

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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 Don't You Just Shoot Him?. However, while Why Don't 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]]


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