Created By: DorianMode on April 30, 2010 Last Edited By: Chubert on April 30, 2010
Troped

Aggressive Negotiations

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Anakin: When I got to them, we got into aggressive negotiations.'
Padme: Aggressive negotiations? What's that?
Anakin: Ah, well, it's negotiations with a lightsaber.
"What? You attack him? During parlay? This is the third time you've killed someone during negotiations!"
-The DM, addressing Aragorn, DM of the Rings

The Big Bad and the Hero meet in peace. Whether the intent is malicious or benign, both sides seem willing to talk it out, at least for now. And anyways, you can't just lop off somebody's head during parley, right? ...Right?

Apparently not, considering the fact that somebody involved in the parley has just busted out swords, guns, or a Humongous Mecha. Both sides can pull one of these, though it usually happens when a Mook from one side of the conflict goes to negotiate with the other sides. There are exceptions, however, where many members from both sides, participate. In this case, somebody pulling this trope can spark an all out Battle Royale With Cheese, resulting in a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero if the hero was aiming for peace. Villains (or Anti Heroes) invoking this trope tend to be Magnificent Bastards.

In a series on the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, a character that does this is either being Bad Ass for silencing the enemy, or is just being really stupid. Seeing as pulling this trope tends to cause war to break out, there aren't many idealist series with this in them, but characters that do invoke this trope tend to be just incredibly stupid.

Contrast and compare with Shoot the Messenger, in which a messenger, who comes in peace, but only to deliver a message, is killed. The two tropes can overlap, as well: if the victim of the invoker of this trope delivers a message and is negotiating, it is both tropes at once.

See Also: I Surrender, Suckers

Ok, the similarities between this and Shoot the Messenger prompt me to ask this question: Should We Have This??


Examples

Anime and Manga

Comics
  • The title characters in the Knights of the Dinner Table have had their PCs do this at least once, while parleying with some orcs. Both Sara and B.A. Felton were not pleased by this.

Film
  • In At World's End, this is played with. One pirate shoots another for questioning the pirate code. However, nothing really major happens- the dead pirate was a nobody, and none of the assembled pirates really want a fight to break out at their meeting.
  • In the movie 300, in the famous This is Sparta scene, Leonidas is essentially doing this. The Athenians reportedly did it as well. Say it with me, everybody:
    Messenger: This is blasphemy! This is madness!
    Leonidas: Madness? This! Is! Sparta!
    • Based on a Real Life example, where when Xerxes' messenger demands earth and water as tributes, the Spartans tell them to "dig them out themselves." Athenians did the same. Sparta shoved them into a well, Athens of a cliff.
  • In The Fifth Element Korban Dallas negotiates by shooting the leader of the Mangalores.
  • Inferred to have happened in Gladiator, as the Roman negotiator is returned headless by the barbarians.
  • In the Lord of the Rings films, Aragorn answers the Mouth of Sauron's demands by beheading him. In the books, he is merely sent off in a rage.
  • In The Phantom Menace, the Trade Federation does this to the Jedi. They escape, however.

Literature
  • In Contact Harvest, a nervous Grunt attacks a marine during a diplomatic meeting and starts the entire Human-Covenant war.
  • In one of the Myth Adventures books, Skeeve is parleying with the head of the opposing army when suddenly he realises the opposing army has been moving into position to attack him while he's distracted by the peace talk. He complains that this is a breach of protocol, and is informed that yes, it is, but it also works extremely well.

Live Action TV
  • The beginning of the new Battlestar Galactica
  • This also happened in the beginning of the original (1970's) Battlestar Galactica. Count Baltar arranged a peace treaty between the 12 Colonies and the Cylons. The Colonies sent all 12 Battlestars to the conference, leaving the Colonies completely undefended. The Cylons carried out a massive attack on both the Battlestars and the colonies, almost completely wiping out both.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation a mediator beams down to a planet which has been at war for hundreds of years with his interpreters (he's a deaf-mute). One of the Mooks on one side is against peace talks and kills the interpreters.

Mythology
  • In the King Arthur myth, his final battle with Mordred started this way. Neither side trusted the other, and brought plenty of heavily armed soldiers along to the negotiations. The fighting started when one soldier, bitten by an asp, drew his sword to kill it. Both sides had been warned to expect treachery, and responded immediately. Due to the confusion and disorganization, both sides were essentially wiped out.

Webcomics
  • In the DM of the Rings, the unnamed DM becomes rather upset at the heroes for killing Saruman, Grima, and the Mouth of Sauron in parley. As continued from the above quote-
    Aragorn: Yeah, let's speed this up. *Kills the Mouth of Sauron
    DM: What? You attack him? During parlay? This is the third time you've killed someone during negotiations!
    Legolas: And they keep falling for it! It's hilarious!
    DM: You're supposed to be a king! Can't you at least pretend to be one for a few seconds?
    Aragorn: If I hadn't shot him Legolas would have.
    Legolas: He's right, too. I was just about to announce my attack.

Rolling Updates

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • April 27, 2010
    Arutema
  • April 27, 2010
    Arivne
    Comic Books
    • The title characters in the Knights Of The Dinner Table have had their PCs do this at least once, while parleying with some orcs. Sara and B.A. Felton were not pleased by this.
  • April 27, 2010
    randomsurfer
    • The beginning of the new Battlestar Galactica
    • In one episode of Star Trek The Next Generation a mediator beams down to a planet which has been at war for hundreds of years with his interpreters (he's a deaf-mute). One of the Mooks on one side is against peace talks and kills the interpreters.
  • April 27, 2010
    RawPower

    I can't believe you missed that.
  • April 27, 2010
    Chubert
    Several things: 1, I did have the 300 scene. 2, Um, forgive the noobiness, but, how do you edit a ykttw? 3, Again, forgive the noobiness, but who the hell is Dorian Mode?
  • April 27, 2010
    RawPower
    Please introduce teh quote then. And the Athenians only turned them down.
  • April 27, 2010
    randomsurfer
    @Chubert: click the little pencil at the top of the OP to edit it.
  • April 28, 2010
    Arutema
    • The 300 scene was based on a Real Life instance. The Persian messengers demanded earth and water as a sign of Sparta's submission. The Spartans threw them down a well to "dig it out yourselves."
  • April 28, 2010
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • This also happened in the beginning of the original (1970's) Battlestar Galactica. Count Baltar arranged a peace conference between the 12 Colonies and the Cylons. The Colonies sent all 12 Battlestars to the conference, leaving the Colonies completely undefended. The Cylons carried out a massive attack on both the Battlestars and the colonies, almost completely wiping out both.
  • April 28, 2010
    Duckay
    In one of the Myth Adventures books, Skeeve is parleying with the head of the opposing army when suddenly he realises the opposing army has been moving into position to attack him while he's distracted by the peace talk. He complains that this is a breach of protocol, and is informed that yes, it is, but it also works extremely well.
  • April 28, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    I think this is sufficiently distinct from Shoot The Messenger - this is responding to attempts at negotiation with violence, whereas "shoot the messenger" is (supposed to be) more about responding to the bringer of bad news with violence.
  • April 28, 2010
    vexle
    DM of the Rings has an excellent quote, extended from the one that opens the page: (Aragorn interrupts the Mouth of Sauron by beheading him) Aragorn: Yeah, let's speed this up.

    DM: What? You attack him? During parlay? This is the third time you've killed someone during negotiations!

    Legolas: And yet they keep falling for it! It's hilarious.

    DM: You're supposed to be a king! Can't you at least pretend to be one for a few seconds?

    Aragorn: If I hadn't shot him Legolas would have.

    Legolas: He's right, too. I was just about to announce my attack.
  • April 29, 2010
    Chubert
    Anybody have any suggestions regarding the title, or is it fine the way it is?
  • April 29, 2010
    Diamondeye
    In the Gladiator film, in the opening battlescene of the German (?) woods, the Roman negotiator is decapitated and sent back without his head.

    Also, I'm sure Pirates Of The Caribbean would contain quite a lot of different takes on this one as well.

    As for the name, "Negotiating with a point" or "White Flag So What" might fit. If you wanted to name it by the Gladiator example, you could call it Headless Diplomacy?
  • April 29, 2010
    AckSed
  • April 29, 2010
    Chubert
    I totally second Negotiating With a Point.
  • April 29, 2010
    Jonny B
    Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl. Pintel: "If anyone so much as mentions the word 'parley', I'll have their guts for garters!"
  • April 29, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    In the King Arthur myth, his final battle with Mordred started this way. Neither side trusted the other, and brought plenty of heavily armed soldiers along to the negotiations. The fighting started when one soldier, bitten by an asp, drew his sword to kill it. Both sides had been warned to expect treachery, and responded immediately.

    Due to the confusion and disorganization, both sides were essentially wiped out.
  • April 29, 2010
    Chubert
    Not going to go with the Caribbean quote for anything, cause they didn't really kill anybody over parley.
  • April 29, 2010
    Kellor
  • April 29, 2010
    caravaggio
    In The Fifth Element Korban Dallas negotiates by shooting the leader of the Mangalores.
  • April 30, 2010
    Stratadrake
    For titles, I like Aggressive Negotiations (trope namer: Star Wars prequel trilogy) too.
  • April 30, 2010
    SomeGuy
    In an Order Of The Stick prequel book we see that this is how The Dark One ultimately met his end- he was murdered while attempting to negotiate a peace settlement with the human, dwarven, and elven kings. Rather than ending the war, it made things far worse, as the goblins swarmed upon their enemies inflicting huge losses in vengeance for their fallen king.

    Is also Truth In Television. Colonial powers throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries commonly used this ploy to draw native leaders out only to capture or kill them. For that matter, it even goes on today- which is probably part of the reason why countries like the United States and Israel are so heavily mistrusted in certain parts of the world.

    The description should note that, in the long term, all the use of this trope tends to accomplish is that the other side simply won't trust them to negotiate in good faith. Which might be good (albeit horrifically immoral) if you can completely wipe out the enemy in this one attack, but will absolutely come back to bite you in the butt later if the enemy has the upper hand.
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