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 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?
Anime and Manga
- 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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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-
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.