Pulled His Own Plug YKTTW Discussion

Pulled His Own Plug
Someone knowingly or unknowingly hurts, offends, kills or destroys someone or something essential to their survival
Needs Examples Better Name
(permanent link) added: 2013-08-17 23:33:06 sponsor: Melkior (last reply: 2013-09-09 05:11:51)

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Do We Have This One??
Seen It a Million Times
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Needs a Better Name
I'll convert the category headings to folders when I launch this trope.

This trope is seen all the time. Bob is totally dependent for his survival on either a particular person or on a particular thing. For some reason, Bob decides to kill the person, annoy or offend the person or destroy the thing upon which he depends.

This trope usually only applies if the dependency is either something inherent to the dependent person and the supporter, or the person willingly took on the dependency and it cannot be simply removed.

A generic example of the first kind of dependency would be a person and their environment, which provides them with air, water and food, all necessary for survival.

A generic example of the second kind of dependency is a space traveller, who has voluntarily become dependent on their space ship and associated equipment for the necessary life support which an environment would usually supply.

The outcome varies, depending on the situation. Sometimes the person is willing to forgive the offense. Sometimes the person is too powerful to be affected by anything Bob does, in which case it can overlap with Bullying The Dragon. Very occasionally, an essential item will be destroyed only to be replaced by another item which does the same thing.

Often leads to Hoist by His Own Petard. If Bob realises the magnitude of his mistake, it generally leads to an Oh Crap! moment. If Bob already knew what he was doing and there was no good reason for the self-sacrifice, it becomes an example of Too Dumb to Live. If the destroyed item provided life support to more than just Bob, it's usually a case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.

If used in a video game, it generally leads to a Game Over although a few games allow the player to keep playing, either as a Mind Screw or just because the game programmers never anticipated that particular player action.

The trope does not refer to simple suicide by unplugging.


  • The destroy and replace variant is explicitly the reason for the alien attack in Independence Day. The aliens are even compared to locusts (see the Real Life example below).
  • An inversion happens in Total Recall. The Big Bad fears that activating the mysterious alien device will result in the destruction of Mars, but when the hero activates it, the device heats up and releases the frozen atmosphere of Mars, making Mars habitable without the life support domes previously required.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: the Jem'Hadar are genetically addicted to a drug called Ketrocel White; it's the only thing they feed on and if they don't get it they'll die. In one episode a Jem'Hadar commander thinks that his squad can be freed of their addiction and destroys the store of Ketrocel White in order to keep any of them from getting it.

Real Life
  • Many climate and environmental scientists believe that Humanity is destroying the Earth's environment, which we depend on to survive. If they turn out to be correct, we could go extinct. Unless we invent Faster-Than-Light Travel first and find another Earth-like planet to inhabit (essential item destroyed and replaced by another).
  • Grasshoppers when in locust mode will strip the land bare of vegetation, meaning they have to move on to find more food (destroy and replace version).
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