[[quoteright:350:[[Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/IndieJustShootsHim_2438.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[-[[Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant "Only a heathen would bring a gun to a sword fight."\\
"Only a moron would bring a sword to a gun fight." ]]-] ]]

->'''Will Turner:''' You ignored the rules of engagement. In a fair fight, I'd kill you.\\
'''Jack Sparrow:''' Then that's not much incentive for me to fight fair, now is it?
-->-- ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl''

Some fights have rules. Most don't. However, a lot of people will [[LetsFightLikeGentlemen still fight as though there are rules]].

[[PsychoticSmirk Heh]]... ''suckers''.

The Combat Pragmatist is a character who is defined by his or her willingness to do [[TheUnfettered anything]] in a fight to win.

This typically applies to "real" fights where there's actually something at stake that's more important than a cash prize, a trophy, or a title belt, and usually not professional fights in a controlled environment where safeguards are in place to prevent one side from suffering too much damage and where one can be disqualified for not abiding by the rules. In such settings, the Combat Pragmatist is an unsympathetic character (usually the main antagonist) who shows through his ruthlessness that he honors nothing -- not his opponents, not the sport and its customs, not the tournament's sacred history -- but winning.

These characters are characterized by an extensive knowledge of tactics others may consider [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty "dirty" fighting]] or just by a willingness to use those tactics to achieve their goal, often against more "honorable" opponents (i.e. {{Genre Blind|ness}} ones). They are likely to think of any adherence to rules or sporting combat as HonorBeforeReason.

They do ''not'' suffer from a ComplexityAddiction, are never afraid to use a MundaneSolution (nor do they need it to be [[StatingTheSimpleSolution pointed out to them]]), ''never'' assume that the other person will fight "honorably", have no interest in a SelfImposedChallenge, don't care if their opponent is a [[WorthyOpponent worthy one]], and will not hesitate to KickThemWhileTheyAreDown. They almost always have their {{weapon of choice}} either on them or near them at all times, and possibly a spare or two. If not, they're willing to use [[ImprovFu absolutely]] ''[[ImprovisedWeapon anything]]'' [[ImprobableWeaponUser as a weapon]] and only resort to GoodOldFisticuffs if there's no weapon nearby.

They won't hesitate to use a DangerousForbiddenTechnique. They have [[WouldntHitAGirl no]] [[WouldntHurtAChild compunctions]] about [[WouldHitAGirl striking a woman]] or [[WouldHurtAChild a child]]. Or [[GroinAttack hitting a guy in the crotch]] (they also know that [[ArtisticLicenseBiology women are really just as vulnerable]] to groin attacks as men are). Or about attacking someone [[InTheBack from behind]]. Or [[AHandfulForAnEye throwing sand in their eyes]]. Or [[DefeatByModesty pulling down their pants]] (or flipping up their skirts if dealing with women or a [[ManInAKilt kilt wearing man]]). Or the HeyYouHaymaker. Or [[ManBitesMan biting them]]. Or using WeightedGloves. Or [[ISurrenderSuckers pretending to surrender]]. Or... [[OverlyLongGag well, you get the idea.]] However, there ''can'' be different levels of this. Even those who don't believe in fighting fair [[EveryoneHasStandards may still have lines they won't cross, such as]] [[ThouShallNotKill refusing to kill]] or [[WouldNotShootACivilian not hurting anyone who's not already part of the fight]].

These characters frequently turn out to be {{Badass}}es, {{Anti Hero}}es, and {{Rebellious Spirit}}s. {{Ninja}} are almost invariably these, with most exceptions belonging to the [[HighlyVisibleNinja highly visible variety]]. Definitely not the KnightInShiningArmor. They never suffer from HonorBeforeReason or DeathByPragmatism. Sometimes WeakButSkilled or TooCleverByHalf, though the truly pragmatic former will constantly seek to increase his power level and hence advantage over his enemies. It can look like ConfusionFu in practice -- but it almost always isn't. If TheUnfettered fights, then he'll be one of these.

This can be an EstablishingCharacterMoment. It can also be a BaseBreaker, both among the audience and {{in-universe}}, due to MoralMyopia - the hero is a resourceful {{Badass}}, while the villain is just a dirty cheater. This can lead to instances of BlackAndGrayMorality, showing that the hero and the villain are NotSoDifferent, and the difference between someone being [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters a terrorist or a freedom fighter]]. For heroes, it's possible for these tactics, if extreme enough, to lead to WhatTheHellHero moments or claims of IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim, sometimes resulting in responses of IDidWhatIHadToDo, and in extreme cases, can be a metaphor for SlowlySlippingIntoEvil that represents the start or conclusion of a FaceHeelTurn.

Villains can also be pragmatic, though it usually takes on a [[PragmaticVillainy different form]]. Villains being normal Combat Pragmatists is usually averted, or at least not played out completely straight, as it makes them DangerouslyGenreSavvy and can possibly even lead to them [[TheBadGuyWins being victorious]]. If they are, it means they avert BondVillainStupidity and [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim actually kill the hero]] instead of [[NoMrBondIExpectYouToDine having dinner with him]]. Depending on the context, using these tactics can be their KickTheDog moment or even their crossing of the MoralEventHorizon.

Characters are often deliberately not put into this trope due to RuleOfCool. If everyone took this approach to combat who could, key characters would be dead or defeated too soon and the story would be over a little too quickly. Plus, it's often just way cooler to show off more complicated tactics than simple ones. Additionally, MoralGuardians and {{Media Watchdog}}s sometimes make having this type of character difficult by ensuring that they can't do certain actions. On the other hand, when drawn-out straight fights are impractical, excitement can be created by GenreShift away from pure action to espionage, planning, intrigue and the thrill of the hunt, with clever heroes and villains alike who avoid the IdiotBall and unnecessary flash, and any open violence being quick and decisive.

[[IThoughtItMeant Not to be confused with]] WhyDontYouJustShootHim (although often is a subversion of that trope).

* CombatPragmatist/{{Anime and Manga}}
* CombatPragmatist/ComicBooks
* CombatPragmatist/FanFiction
* CombatPragmatist/{{Film}}
* CombatPragmatist/{{Literature}}
* CombatPragmatist/LiveActionTV
* CombatPragmatist/VideoGames
* CombatPragmatist/WebComics
* CombatPragmatist/WebOriginal
* CombatPragmatist/WesternAnimation
* CombatPragmatist/RealLife
* CombatPragmatist/{{Other}}