->'''Roku''': Shit! The volcano is erupting! Get everyone to safety while I hold it off!\\
'''Ta Min''': Um, honey? If we already know that I'll be able to get everyone in this considerably tiny village into boats, and we don't care all that much about our possessions, why do you need to put yourself in mortal danger?\\
'''Ta Min''': *sigh*
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' [[http://community.livejournal.com/avatar_fans/1926928.html Condensed Episode 47]]

A crutch commonly used to [[HandWave justify a foolish or ridiculous course of action]]. There is almost always a more sensible course of action available if the characters involved would just bother to think, but that might ruin the contrived plot and/or prevent a tragic situation. And the audience better not try to think of any alternate solutions either, because "It's the only way!"

In many dramas, it is "the only way" in the messed-up mindset of the character saying it -- television characters are frequently [[GenreBlindness less reasonable]] and more focused than real people.

Compare with IDidWhatIHadToDo, the WellIntentionedExtremist's accessory after the fact. Compare also the correlated trope WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer. Less common is another character StatingTheSimpleSolution in response.

[[folder: Comics]]
* Subverted in ''ComicBook/BlueBeetle'' when Dani Garrett is about to fly her ship into a volcano, and Jaime asks if she's sure it can survive it.
--> '''Danni:''' Only one way to find out!
--> '''Jaime:''' No! No! There are other ways to "find out"! Like tests and experiments!
--> '''Danni:''' Oh, yeah. Sorry.

[[folder: Film]]
* In ''Film/X2XMenUnited'', Jean Grey sacrifices herself, supposedly because it's the only way to save the team; there has been considerable debate among fans about the ''multiple'' other ways they could have survived, or ways she could have saved them that would not have involved her death.
* Eve Archer in ''Film/FaceOff'' believes that taking a blood sample from Castor Troy-as-Sean Archer is the only way to establish his identity. She could have simply taken DNA samples from him and her daughter (hair, fingerprints...) and run a comparison. Either way, additionally demanding a sample from Sean Archer-as-Castor Troy would have been a good idea.
* In the climax of ''Film/TenaciousDInThePickOfDestiny'', Jack Black challenges the Devil to a rock-off, and for the stakes declares the Devil can take (just) his partner Kyle Gass back to Hell as a sex slave if they lose. He then melodramatically urges the understandably upset Kyle that "it's the ''only'' way!".
** Although, when you really think about it, it actually IS the only way. What better motivation to rock ''really hard'' than threats of rape by Satan himself?
*** Also, he had the deal center on his ''partner'' being taken by Satan so that ''he'' [[spoiler:would be free to block the unholy lightning attack with his guitar and blow the Devil's horn off.]] Of course, how he expected ''that'' to work is another question entirely.
* Parodied (kind of) in the movie ''Film/SnakesOnAPlane'', where the villain releases hundreds of venomous snakes onto a plane containing a single person he wishes to kill. When one of his lackeys wonders if there might have been a simpler plan with a higher chance of success, the villain snaps something to the effect of, "Do you think I didn't exhaust every other option?"
* [[JustifiedTrope Weirdly justified]] in ''Film/{{Transmorphers}}'': A nuclear bomb needs to be placed next to a reactor. They attempt to throw it in, which is (of course) unsuccessful. So, our hero decides to put it in himself, despite the requisite 100% chance of death. [[spoiler:Turns out he's actually an android, and therefore the only one capable of fooling the defense system, which is programmed to sense only organic material]]. It's no less melodramatic, though.
* Spoofed in ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow''.
-->'''Sky Captain:''' "Is it safe?"
-->'''Dex:''' "Well, there's only one way to find out."
-->''(Sky Captain and Polly step across the booby-trapped threshold and are relieved to be unharmed)''
-->'''Dex:''' "I meant throw something."
* ''Film/{{Aliens}}'': "I say we take off and [[JustForFun/HowtoInvadeanAlienPlanet nuke the entire site from orbit]]. It's the only way to be sure." And it wasn't that bad an idea because [[spoiler:every colonist save one was long since dead and the majority of the marines were either KIA or awaiting a FateWorseThanDeath. Not to mention everyone save the corporate stooge was 100% on board with denying [[MegaCorp Weyland-Yutani]] their murderous, murderous prize by this point.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' is the story of a woman named Julia who kills men and collects their blood in order to revive a former lover. A visit to a blood bank would have solved her problem in a much less grisly way.
* Said by King Triton in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'', just before he destroys Ariel's grotto in a fit of blind rage.
-->'''Triton:''' So help me, Ariel, I ''will'' get through to you. And if this is the only way, '''''so be it'''''.

[[folder: LiveActionTV]]
* Series finale of ''Series/BurnNotice'' - The "only way" for Jesse to get Charlie out of the safe house is for [[spoiler:Madeline to push the big red button on the bomb and sacrifice herself in the process.]] Except of course for the countless other ways they could have easily rigged that big red button to be pressed when the bad guys opened the door. Or the countless other kinds of boobie traps the characters have rigged up over the past seven seasons.
* In the pilot episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', the crew decides that the only way to prevent the [[TooDumbToLive Kazons]] from taking control of the Caretaker's Array is to remain in the Delta Quadrant (rather than taking it back home) so that they can blow it up. Apparently, none of them have ever heard of time bombs. Also, nobody brings up the far more logical argument that the Array had already killed half the crew the first time it was used, and they didn't have any way of ensuring it would be safer this time.
** Somewhat justified in that the Kazon were already there. In the middle of the battle, it was decided to destroy the array.
* There are better methodologies of discerning the superiority of one thing over another, but that doesn't mean that [[Series/HarryHillsTVBurp Harry Hill]] doesn't have a personal favourite.
* ''Series/TheEvent'' uses this trope like there's no tomorrow. Unless a character hasn't thought up "the only way" yet, in which case you can be sure they will insist "[[IndyPloy I'll find a way!!!]]" when pressed about the fact that they have no gameplan.

[[folder: NewspaperComics]]
* A porcupine, in a ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' comic strip about WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer: "We must stick them with quills! It's the only way!"

[[folder: WebComics]]
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' when Galatea concludes [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20101120.html her new invention has to be destroyed]] before it falls into the wrong hands.
--> '''Galatea:''' ''I've set the ship to destroy itself!''\\
'''Bob:''' What?!\\
'''Galatea:''' It's the ''only way,'' Uncle! Don't you see? ''It's the only way!!!''\\
'''Bob:''' But couldn't you just take the machine ''apart?'' Or ''break it?''\\
'''Galatea:''' ............... oh. um...\\
'''Bob:''' What is the ''matter'' with you?!\\
'''Galatea:''' I think I'm doing very ''well'' for my age!

[[folder: WesternAnimation]]
* In the quoted example from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' above, it may in fact have been justified as Roku's holding back the magma is the only thing that gives the rest of the village enough time to evacuate.
* Played for laughs in the BizarroEpisode of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''. Why are alien tofu invading the Earth, kidnapping cows and running substitute-meat fast food chains with the intent to blow up the planet? "It is our WAY!"
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' episode "Another Way", Finn is harassed by enemies who give him exactly two courses of action (usually [[MortonsFork bad and worse]]) then declaring "IT'S THE ONLY WAY! [[EvilLaugh AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!]]" Then Finn finds [[TakeAThirdOption Another]] [[TitleDrop Way]] through the obstacle.

[[folder: VideoGames]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland'': [[spoiler:Spoken by Zombie Guybrush to a surprised Morgan near the end of Chapter 5, when he takes out [[ChekhovsGun his last shred of life]] and tosses it into the rip to close up the Crossroads, trapping the Pirate God [=LeChuck=] and allowing her and Elaine to use the CoupDeGrace on him simultaneously.]]
** Before that, De Cava says this in Chapter 3 when he says he's weaving the husks of Manatee Throat Grubs for an artificial cochlea, [[spoiler:unaware that the actual cochlea had been stolen by his own crew during the time they were in the manatee]].