Disproportionate Blackmail
Help us blow up the city or we kill your family.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-04-24 09:15:41 sponsor: Westrim (last reply: 2013-05-11 10:01:55)

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Blackmail is a well known tactic in Real Life and in fiction, with many variations. Generally there's some sort of balance, or the thing being asked for is less than the thing being threatened. A life may be threatened for a life, or 500,000 dollars may be asked for in exchange for not revealing a career ending secret. But sometimes the balance gets out of whack the other direction and it becomes this trope.

The blackmail in this case concerns something far more important than what the blackmailer is threatening; they may want someone killed in exchange for hiding an affair, for instance. It's most egregious when what is wanted will still result in the loss of what is threatened- it doesn't matter if you get your wife back, they still have the nuclear launch codes.

Always Save the Girl is a subtrope for love interests


  • Attempted in Olympus Has Fallen, where the villain tried to use the Presidents son to blackmail him into handing over a code that would detonate every American nuke, but was unable to grab him.
  • In Iron Man 3, the Vice President is willing to be a puppet leader in exchange for a cure for his daughters disability.
  • On Series/Nikita, Nikita is threatened with the death of Michael unless she assassinates the President.

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