Created By: Tinweasel on February 15, 2008
Nuked

War Pigs

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Trope
Time will tell on their power minds / Making war just for fun / Treating people just like pawns in chess / Wait 'til the judgement day comes...

-From War Pigs by Black Sabbath

So you need to establish that the antagonizing force's general is evil. Really evil. Definitely-not-a-Designated Antagonist evil.

No problem! Just give him a casual disregard for the lives of his own troops, and all that pesky chance of him becoming sympathetic goes right out the window.

I've Seen It a Million Times, but there are specific things that made me think of it:

-Most necromancers and other undead-using sorts will gleefully send legions of their troops off to get re-killed, though this is thorughly justified when you consider that no lives are lost. Well, except for the enemy.

-Advance Wars: Days of Ruin plays this straight, with everyone you're supposed to dislike being shown treating their troops like, well, pawns in chess. Meanwhile, anyone sympathetic is guaranteed to give Big Bad Caulder a lecture on the importance of human life. (The one character who says nothing either way is decidedly gray in most other aspects of characterization.)

-However, the earlier Advance Wars titles are close to inverting this, with every CO and their brother being willing to send their men to their deaths just to test out an ally's strength. The only characters who ever outright object to War Piggery are Olaf and Sonja, and that seems to be nothing more than a reaction to Lash wrecking Olaf's hometown and giving Sonja a Not So Different speech.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • February 15, 2008
    Karellen
    That IS actually a genuine trope, and I'm shocked that between Redshirt Army, Faceless Goons, Mooks, You Have Failed Me and Kick The Dog and probably a couple of other related tropes I can't recall right now, we don't actually seem to have this very specific and extremely common plot element troped by now.
  • February 15, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Oh my god, I've really seen it a million times, and it always irritates me to no end.

    I can't recall a specific example, though. Maybe that's because any show that does this is unlikely to be remembered by me with any sort of fondness. I _think_ Zero No Tsukaima's second season's Big Bad (who has about one minute screentime through the whole series) pulls something like this towards the end. But I'm not watching that $#*@ again to confirm that.
  • February 15, 2008
    Shale
    Suikoden 2: Luca Blight kicks off the game by slaughtering his troops under a false flag. Order Of The Stick: Xykon and his allies play this to the hilt, including the time one of his "brothers" ordered hundreds of hobgoblins to charge an enemy fortification so he could use their corpses as a ramp.
  • February 15, 2008
    Fanra
    In the movie Mystery Men, Casanova Frankenstein kills his own men for no other reason than to mention to the heroes he is so evil and uncaring that he kills his own men.
  • February 15, 2008
    BlackDragon
    Metal Gear Solid, and indeed the entire Metal Gear series, comes to mind, though Metal Gear Solid 3 stands out in particular. Most of the main plots are driven by this kind of behavior from the Patriots, or the US government. Big Boss created Outer Heaven specifically as a refuge where soldiers could be soldiers, without being pawns to anyone - and it was in Metal Gear Solid 3 that he got the idea, after watching them send The Boss to her death for political expenditure.
  • February 15, 2008
    {{Meta4}}
    In Batman Forever, Two-Face fires indiscriminately at Batman while one of his goons is in the way. I don't remember if this was an isolated incident or not.
  • February 15, 2008
    Fanra
    While War Pigs is a cool title, I'm afraid Expendable Minions is a lot easier to figure out what it means.

    We can still have the War Pigs quote at the top of it, though.
  • February 15, 2008
    adam850
    That Squad 13 guy from Bleach, right? The experimenter.
  • February 15, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Mayuri Kurotsuchi is who you're thinking of. I think a fellow who casually turns his own soldiers into bombs qualifies.

    On the humorous end, Zapp Brannagan of Futurama, who once sent wave after wave of his own men to fight the Killbots, knowing that the enemies had an exact (though horrifically high) limit of how many humans they were programmed to kill. ("Kif, show them the medal I won.")
  • February 15, 2008
    BlackDragon
    The example of Mayuri from Bleach reminded me of something... the City Of Villains Mastermind Archetype, 'Traps' secondary powerset, ultimate move. I don't remember what it's actually called, since most people simply referred to as 'Setting up us the bomb'. As with Mayuri, it allows you to turn your own minions into walking bombs - if you're using Zombies or Robots, they just plain blow up, while more human minions - mercenaries, thugs and ninjas - will try to put down the bomb and run away. Which doesn't always work very well, seeing as they've got pretty short fuses...
  • February 16, 2008
    Attilargh
    The Imperial Guard of Warhammer 40000. Well, except for the units led by heroic commissars who never exeute anyone.
  • February 16, 2008
    Silent_Hunter
    I initially thought this was about propaganda depicting the enemy as non-human.
  • February 16, 2008
    Andyroid
    Might be partly covered by Bad Boss.
  • February 16, 2008
    Scooter007
    Imperial Stormtroopers and TIE fighters in Star Wars are considered 100 percent disposable.
  • February 16, 2008
    ShayGuy
    I can think of a certain character who's SUPPOSED to be on the good guys' side, but is like this with his own SON, giving the kid's Humongous Mecha a higher retrieval priority than him.

    You all know who I mean, I'm sure.
  • February 16, 2008
    LordTNK
    The Neidermeyer is somewhat related to this, but that's more out of the guy feeling superior, while this trope is about someone amoral in concern to the troops.
  • February 17, 2008
    VampireBuddha
    Obligatory Avatar The Legend Of Aang example featuring Zuko: Part of the reason Zuko was originally exiled was because he objected to a general's plan to sacrifice troops in battle.
  • February 17, 2008
    Tinweasel
    Wow, this one grew fast.

    I'm declaring it Up For Grabs, seeing as I'm a lot busier than I thought I would be.
  • February 17, 2008
    RobertBingham
    And of course, we have Xerxes of Battle of Thermopylae and 300 fame, making this one Truth In Television.
  • February 17, 2008
    {{Meta4}}
    In Braveheart, "Longshanks" orders his archers to open fire while his own infantry is still on the battlefield.
  • February 17, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    One of the Xmen movies has Magneto saying "That's why the pawns go first."
  • February 17, 2008
    BlackDragon
    That's X-Men III... when he's assaulting Alcatraz with an army of small-time mutants, to let them get chewed up by the defences.
  • February 18, 2008
    Arivne
    Raiders of the Lost Ark. While Indiana Jones is in Nepal, he gets into a fight with Major Todt's henchmen and ends up wrestling one of them for a gun.

    Major Todt: Shoot them. Shoot them both.
  • February 18, 2008
    {{Fly}}
    Doesn't Metal Gear Solid do it backwards? Big Boss is a warmongering nihilistic murderer, but he genuinely cares for his troops, learns their names, and leads them carefully. Meanwhile, the Pentagon (while ostensibly the goodies, if only by default) send Snake charging off to slaughter everyone inconvenient with a secret biological weapon, knowing that the woman who designed the virus would make it kill him as well.
  • February 18, 2008
    Masami Phoenix
    Order Of The Stick has Xykon who is extremely willing to sacrifice his minions, particularly the legions of hobgoblins he picked up. Most notably he fed them to a gaurd monster to put the creature to sleep, and then sent them up against the Azure City in a "run until you die and your bodies will eventually form a bridge" level that would make Sauron look like he treats his orcs with loving care.

    Similarly, but earlier, when the orcs asked him for benefits, he killed them with lightning and ressurected them as zombies.
  • February 18, 2008
    thatother1dude
    @Masami Phoenix: that was actually the Death Night (?) that was serving as his double. Though the only reason Xykon wouldn't do that is because he'd never think of it. Is this related to Bad Boss?
  • February 18, 2008
    lupis42
    Rimmer actually gets this treatment in one the Red Dwarf episodes, with his cunning plan of charging through the minefield. The Star Wars Examples depend on the source, of course, with different EU characters considering them to be anything from a limited and valuable resource, right the way down to a method of buying a few seconds in combat with the plucky heroes. Then there's the Russian charge at the beginning of Enemy at the Gates...
  • February 18, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    The red army did this a lot, as will any Fantasy Counterpart Culture based on them: close formation marching to clear minefields was an accepted use for penal battalions, plus there was the early war practice of issuing one rifle between several conscripts due to limited stocks.
  • February 20, 2008
    PaulRobinson
    I think I read somewhere how Zap Brannigan in Futurama was such an incompetent military man that he would send his troops out on battles where they're practically cannon fodder before they even leave the base, but uses so many that he does win the battle, sort of like sending 100,000 troops against two dozen, and losing 30,000 to kill the 24.
  • February 24, 2008
    UnknownTroper
  • February 24, 2008
    HeartBurnKid
    don't-say-bush-don't-say-bush-don't-say-bush...
  • February 24, 2008
    WilliamWideWeb
    HBK: There are people fighting in Afghanistan who have to scrounge for Taliban guns. Three guesses as to why and the first two don't count.
  • February 24, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Part of the Gameplay And Story Segregation in strategy games. If you're a Knight In Shining Armor Paladin, a paragon of all that is good and holy, then you shouldn't send wave after wave of soldiers to their senseless deaths just because you're to lazy to build siege machines to do it the proper way, but I don't know of any games where you're actually penalized for that kind of behavior.

    Of course, if you're playing as an Evil team, then this is pretty much just being in character.
  • February 26, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    YKTTW Bump.

    Also, when a villain doesn't act like this it's a case of Even Evil Has Standards or a Pet The Dog moment.
  • February 26, 2008
    James S
    Well, we've got plenty of examples and there are probably plenty more too. I'm willing to to the write up on this: anyone have any thoughts on names? Should we keep War Pigs, or go with something else? (Some possible thoughts of mine: Everyone Is Expendable, We Have Reserves, [inspired by Longshank's response in Braveheart when one of his commanders objects to shooting their own men along with the enemies] Ruthless Commander, Meaningless Henchmen, etc).
  • February 26, 2008
    Fanra
  • February 26, 2008
    James S
    Good title. I just had an idea that I just want to throw out first, since it describes the person giving the commands rather than the minions (and Expendable Minions sounds just like Redshirt Army, Faceless Mooks, etc) General Vicious.
  • February 26, 2008
    Fanra
    If Expendable Minions doesn't do it for you, then

    We Have Reserves conveys the concept.
  • February 26, 2008
    James S
    Ok then. Launching.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xhhhlbo3&trope=WeHaveReserves