[[quoteright:350:[[Film/SympathyForLadyVengeance http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ladyvengeance1_6317.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:[[CrapsackWorld Considering the setting,]] ''[[JadeColoredGlasses she's doing the dog a favor.]]'']]-]

->''"But I've sworn to protect this sorry world, and sometimes that means saying and doing what other people can't -- they shouldn't have to."''
-->-- '''Giles''', ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', "[[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS5E22TheGift The Gift]]"

When a protagonist does [[DirtyBusiness an ambiguously (a)moral act]] because current circumstances make it the most pragmatic and logical thing to do. If TheHero performs the job himself, he may even go so far as to hide it from the rest of the cast (possibly with [[PoorCommunicationKills serious repercussions later]]) due to the risk of [[SlaveToPR compromising his moral standards]], or they might say WhatTheHellHero to which he might reply IDidWhatIHadToDo. Otherwise, he may delegate it to the AntiHero or TheLancer, whose reputations won't be hurt as severely for the deed. May demonstrate WhatYouAreInTheDark.

If one Shoots The Dog too often, one runs the risk of becoming a KnightTemplar or PoisonousFriend. Alternatively, a PsychoSidekick, popular in hard-boiled crime fiction since the 1980s or so, is a character whom the author approves of whose main purpose is to Shoot the Dog whenever necessary. TheSpock is also likely to suggest shooting the dog and is the personification of this trope. Depending on [[StrawVulcan the]] [[StrawmanEmotional slant]] [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism of]] the series, he will also be the one to carry about the shooting, or the characters will TakeAThirdOption at the last minute. If the author doesn't want to compromise his heroes' goodness, he'll have BigDamnVillains do it. One common way to show the emotional pain this causes is by showing the shooter CradlingTheirKill.

This trope is named after the [[ItWasHisSled climactic scene]] of ''Film/OldYeller'', where the titular dog is literally shot to [[MercyKill put it out of its misery]].

For a diametric opposition that makes you ''cheer'' for the hero's senselessness, see HonorBeforeReason. For extra anguish, it may well have been a SenselessSacrifice because the one shot [[InterruptedCooldownHug was no longer a threat.]] Expect the shooter to go for the most JerkAss solution even when FridgeLogic indicates much less morally compromising ones are possible, because MurderIsTheBestSolution.

Note that this trope is '''''not''''' KickTheDog [[Administrivia/TheSameButMore But More So]] (the closest thing to that would be MoralEventHorizon); kicking the dog is the villain being senselessly evil just to show the audience how evil he is. Shooting the Dog is an ostensibly heroic character doing [[DirtyBusiness something that is necessary but morally gray]] -- such as putting down the old family pet after it's contracted rabies. (BadDreams are far more likely after shooting the dog than after kicking it.) Senseless shooting of a dog would actually fall under KickTheDog or MoralEventHorizon. [[IThoughtItMeant And it also has nothing to do]] with the desire every 8-bit gamer ''ever'' has had to shoot the ''VideoGame/DuckHunt'' [[TheScrappy dog]].

If an actual pet is involved, this is an exception to InfantImmortality.
This may or may not be confused with [[http://www.rrrrthats5rs.com/games/dont-shoot-the-puppy/ Don't Shoot The Puppy.]], but do not confuse with ShootTheShaggyDog, which is a particular form of DownerEnding.

Compare/contrast with LightIsNotGood, OmniscientMoralityLicense, WellIntentionedExtremist, KnightTemplar, TheUnfettered, CruelToBeKind. The version where a bad guy does this for a hero is BadGuysDoTheDirtyWork.

----
!!Examples

%% This trope is NOT ABOUT LITERALLY SHOOTING DOGS (usually), e.g. the Mooks in the movie "Equilibrium" shooting dogs with shotguns DOES NOT COUNT... Shoot The Dog is something a protagonist might do: commit a morally gray but necessary act (like shooting Old Yeller)... if you want to add an example that is merely firing a gun at a canine, don't; if you see an example like that, delete it or move it to KickTheDog.

[[index]]
* ShootTheDog/AnimeAndManga
* ShootTheDog/{{Film}}
* ShootTheDog/{{Literature}}
* ShootTheDog/LiveActionTV
* ShootTheDog/VideoGames
[[/index]]

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* In Creator/AlanMoore's ''{{Comicbook/Miracleman}}'', the titular character [[spoiler: executes the innocent Johnny Bates]] to permanently prevent [[spoiler: his evil alter-ego Kid Miracleman from resurfacing]]. Subverted in that [[spoiler:Miracleman had already thrown a bus full of people at Bates/Miracleman without a second thought. The caption implies he did so while with at least partial awareness of the innocent deaths that would cause. It didn't hurt Bates anyway. Which Miracleman may have known.]]
** Miracleman also [[spoiler:kills Gargunza's dog to stop it from turning back into a monster. With a ''rock.'']]
* [[spoiler:Ozymandias]]'s plan in ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' is a ''nuke'' the dog. Then later [[spoiler: he has to disintegrate his beloved pet, a genetically engineered lynx, in an attempt to destroy Dr. Manhattan]]
* Everything NickFury does in the Franchise/MarvelUniverse falls into this category.
* In UltimateMarvel, dog-shooting is a national sport. Except for Comicbook/UltimateSpiderMan; he's still JustAKid.
* ComicBook/{{Invincible}} once [[spoiler: killed future Immortal, who turned into dictator and was begging him to do it.]]
* In ''{{Franchise/Batman}}'', [[Comicbook/{{Robin}} Jason Todd]] ''thought'' he was doing this for Batman and {{Nightwing}} back when he was more [[AntiHero Hero]] than [[SociopathicHero Anti.]] Then he [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope went really dark.]]
* The ending the ''[[Comicbook/HackSlash Hack/Slash]]'' story ''Little Children''.
* In ''ShadeTheChangingMan'', Shade is forced to kill an enemy that can't be reasoned with or contained.
-->"I can't defend it. It was probably wrong... but... things aren't always black and white, are they? Sometimes I guess things get so gray you can't do what's right... only what's going to be least wrong."
* ''Comicbook/{{Thorgal}}'' has one case of this when Thorgal and [[ClingyJealousGirl Shania]] end up petitioning one of the gods for the return of Thorgal's wife. Said god lives on a box floating in the middle of a void filled with threads, with each thread representing a single human life. All the god requires to return Thorgal's wife is for Thorgal to take his bow and fire an arrow in any given direction, which will be certain to at some point sever a thread and kill ''someone''. When Thorgal can't bring himself to do it, Shania takes the bow from him and does it instead. [[spoiler:The thread she severs turns out to be her own.]]
* In ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'', [[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries Renee]] [[ComicBook/GothamCentral Montoya]] and TheQuestion are at the wedding of BlackAdam and Comicbook/{{Isis}} looking for a [[SuicideAttack suicide bomber]]. When they find the bomber they discover that it is a young girl, just a kid, but they are too far away from her to reach her before she detonates her bomb. Since an explosion in this crowded space would result in hundreds, possibly thousands of deaths Renee realizes she has no choice and shoots the bomber, killing her before she can activate the device. Charlie, and later Black Adam himself, [[YouDidEverythingYouCould assure her that she had no choice]], but Renee [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone is traumatised by the fact that she]] [[TheseHandsHaveKilled just killed a little kid]].
* One absolutely [[TearJerker/ComicBooks heartbreaking]] example appears in ''{{Ultimate X-Men}}''. An unfortunate teenager wakes up one morning and discovers that he's a mutant [[BlessedWithSuck/ComicBooks whose sole ability is to emit an]] InstantDeathRadius [[WalkingWasteland of a few hundred feet that kills every living thing around him]]. By the time he realizes what's happening, he has unwittingly killed his entire town including his family and friends. Frightened out of his mind, he hides in a nearby cave. Then {{Wolverine}}, who is able to survive thanks to his HealingFactor, appears. He gives the kid a beer and tells him what happened. In the end, to keep the kid from accidentally hurting anyone else and to keep his existence a secret (since news of a mutant with that kind of power would destroy any chance of peace between mutants and humans), Wolverine kills him. By that point it's almost a MercyKilling since the kid can't live with being responsible for so much death.
* In ''Comicbook/TheWalkingDead'', [[spoiler:one of the children in the group, Ben, kills and cuts apart his twin sibling. This prompts an eight-year-old Carl Grimes, son of the protagonist, to shoot Ben, because he was "too dangerous".]]
* In ''Franchise/GreenLantern'' ''Corps'' #66, the combined corruption of Parallax and the Black Lanterns have made it impossible to heal [[spoiler:Mogo]]. As long as [[spoiler:Mogo]] is active, he will continue to send out Parallax corrupted Green Lantern Rings across the universe, dooming countless billions to die by the hands of those who should be their champions. Faced with no alternative, [[spoiler:John Stewart channels Black Lantern energy and [[EarthShatteringKaboom ''destroys Mogo'']].]]
** John Stewart has become kind of a magnet for this sort of thing lately, as he also recently [[spoiler:killed a fellow lantern who had broken under torture and was about to give up the access codes to Oa.]]
* From ''[[BatmanAndTheOutsiders The Outsiders]]'': [[http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2015717.html Shift and Indigo]]
* Comicbook/DoctorStrange will do whatever is necessary to protect the Earth and his loved ones. He'll agonize about it afterward, but he'll still do it.
* Some Justice League members actually [[spoiler:[[BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood brainwashed the dog.]]]][[spoiler:Twice. They [[LaserGuidedAmnesia erased Dr. Light's memory]]]], and when Batman found out about it, [[spoiler: they did the same to him.]]
** Also, Wonder Woman [[spoiler: snapping Maxwell Lord's neck, in order to break his mind control over Superman. The latter wasn't too happy when he found out.]]
* {{X-23}} is forced to do this ''literally'' by the Facility as part of her BreakTheCutie TrainingFromHell. When they decided she still had too much empathy for others, Laura was given a puppy with orders to kill it within a set amount of time and was then left alone to carry it out. She played with it instead, and when her handlers returned to find the puppy still alive threatened ''to torture it'' as punishment for Laura failing to follow orders, before relenting an offering her another chance.
* In ''Uncanny X-Force'', it is revealed that a resurrected Apocalypse will bring about the Age of Apocalypse. To prevent this, X-Force, an already morally ambigious team that's entire purpose is to ShootTheDog, decides to kill Apocalypse. However, it's revealed that Apocalypse is actually a child, who is still innocent. The team is split, with Angel the most adamant about killing Kid Apocalypse, saying that Kid Apocalypse won't be able to control his nature, and that doing this will save millions of lives. However, he stops himself, and the team decide to take Kid Apocalypse back for training. Then Fantomex shoots him in the head. Later on, Deadpool of all people is the one to call the team out on this, and Wolverine says it was the right thing to do, and that sparing him was just a moment of weakness. Fantomex himself secretly cloned Kid Apocalypse.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/BetterAngels'' has this as Shane Walsh's modius operandi, lightly contrasting the "[[FanNickname Ricktatorship]]" that takes place in ''Series/TheWalkingDead'' show canon.
* ''FanFic/NightOfTheShy'': After Fluttershy is [[DemonicPossession possessed]] by the BigBad, [[EldritchAbomination Nightmare]], the rest of the Mane Cast reluctantly discuss the possibility that if all else fails, they may have to kill Fluttershy in order to defeat Nightmare. Princess Luna actually attempts to do so during the Battle of Ponyville [[spoiler: but is OutGambitted before she can strike the killing blow and is killed herself]].
* ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'': [[Franchise/AceAttorney Phoenix]], in order to save [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Rainbow Dash]] from a guilty verdict by extending the trial one day to get more time to investigate, [[spoiler:[[AccuseTheWitness places suspicion of the murder over Fluttershy]]]]. To make matters worse, [[WhatTheHellHero he gets berated constantly as he's doing this]], and given the circumstances, he can't explain to them neither his reasoning behind this nor [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone how much he hates himself for it]].
* In the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'', [[spoiler: this is how the Alicorns and Draconnequi justify destroying the G3 world and triggering a CosmicRetcon. If they hadn't, the errors in that world would have caused it to collapse anyway and [[ApocalypseHow destroy everything]]. At least their way allows the world to start over again; they even state they wouldn't be doing so if they had any other choice.]]
** Similarly, [[spoiler: this is why, after the universe reboots, Destruction prevents the transition from G2 to G3 by basically nuking the planet at the critical moment. Sure, millions die and pony civilization collapses back into the Dark Ages, but if he hadn't, the CosmicRetcon would have been rendered pointless.]]
** [[spoiler:Pandora, the Draconequus of Imagination, had no choice to imprison her child (the entity that would eventually become General-Admiral Makarov) [[SealedEvilInACan in her box]] after it went on a rampage and turned the Realm of Legends into its own twisted fairy tale, despite clearly not ''wanting'' to. Later on, she has to help Shining feed Makarov to [[ClockRoaches the Blank Wolf]] to save the entire world, and more or less sees doing so as this trope.]]
* In ''FanFic/JewelOfDarkness'', Falcon convinces the [[GuardianOfTheMultiverse Endless Council]] to send an assassin after Midnight in order to prevent Trigon from using her as his portal. The justification he gives is that as she's evil, she's more easily corruptible than other versions of Raven, which means that there's a greater chance she won't defeat Trigon, allowing him to conquer that universe, and [[MultiversalConqueror later the whole multiverse]]. He presents this as the LesserOfTwoEvils.
* ''FanFic/RiseOfTheGaleforces'': [[spoiler:Violet feeds [[BigBad Ludlow]] to baby T.rexes. ''In front of everyone.'' Though to be fair, Adam did imply several times before that Ludlow thoroughly deserved it.]]
* ''FanFic/ThePowersOfHarmony'': When [[BigBad Cetus]] first [[HiddenVillain reveals]] herself, Luna and Shining Armor try to kill her, despite the fact that [[spoiler: she's [[DemonicPossession possessing Rarity]]]]. Shining actually points out that everyone else will be upset with them, but Luna views it as a necessary evil.
* In the Teen Care Bears series the Care Bear Magi state that thsi is their purpose: they were created to take ont eh burdens and perform the actions that the main Care Bear Family cannot, specifically to kill threats to peace and caring that cannot be reasoned with. Their first major series of actions is to systematically kill every member of the [[FantasticRasicm Hunters]], and organization that pathologically fears and attempts to destroy all forms of magic, as leaving them alive might cause most of humanity to turn on the Care Bears; in a later story they seem determined to kill Fauna because she's been corrupted by No-Heart and might pose an unstoppable threat to everyone if she's left alive.
* In the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'', we have Takeru's plan to [[spoiler: allow Takato to die in order to prevent Daemon from aquiring the power of God]].
* ''Fanfic/FallenKing'' has Joey throwing Ryou Bakura off the helicopter to his death.
-->''"I'm protecting my friends," [Joey] replied. Though his voice was steady, his body trembled fiercely. Things had certainly changed. "He's not our friend."''
* In ''FanFic/OrderInChaos'', a Centauri patrol destroys an Orieni explorer, and interrogates the survivors to find out how many other ships were with them before they lost contact. The Orieni ships had been infected by an horror who feeds on people's mind and reproduce by infecting those who escape alive, and they couldn't allow any of them to reach an inhabitated planet.
* ''FanFic/MirrorsImage'': Queen Chrysalis was forced to let her first daughter die of starvation, rather than let the entire Changeling Hive die trying to feed her.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]
* In 2008, {{Wrestling/Batista}} confronted Wrestling/ShawnMichaels for doing this to Wrestling/RicFlair and ending his career. ''Old Yeller'' was referenced leading up to the friendly match at ''WrestleMania 24'', but - as was referenced in the color commentary for the match itself - it was rabies, not age, that forced the main character to kill the dog. Still, the match was presented as Shawn knowing full well that Flair was too old to wrestle any more and that he was going to lose to ''someone'' soon - all Michaels could do was fulfill his friend's wishes and be the one to end his career.
** It's implied that Batista was jealous, because Flair asked Michaels and not him.
* Wrestling/ShawnMichaels and Wrestling/VinceMcMahon's actions in the MontrealScrewjob. Vince and Shawn [[{{Kayfabe}} really did]] screw Wrestling/BretHart out of the [=WWF=] Championship, out of Vince's fear that Bret would appear on rival promotion [=WCW=] with the title, since Hart was about to leave the [=WWF=] and go work for [=WCW=]. Something similar had happened before where then-[=WWF=] Women's Champion Alyndra Blaze dumped the Women's Championship belt into a garbage can on WCW's flagship program, ''Monday Nitro'', and Vince didn't want the same thing to happen again. Hart refused to drop the title to Michaels, since the two had bad blood. Finally, at SurvivorSeries in 1997, as Michaels put Hart into Hart's own submission move, Vince called for the bell, costing Hart the match. Whether or not the real-life screwjob was justified or not is still a contentious issue among wrestling fans, even today.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Roleplay]]
* In ''Roleplay/YuGiOhEastAcademy'', Marcus orders his partner to read the mind of a helpless cultist then execute him. Naturally, [[WhatTheHellHero this horrifies the other members.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* The [[BadassLongcoat Commissars]] from ''{{TabletopGame/Warhammer 40000}}'' are justified in [[YouHaveFailedMe shooting their men]] as maintaining unit cohesiveness for the cost of a few men is preferable to having many more die in the chaos of a general rout.
** [[TheEmpire the Imperium]] regularly Blows Up The Planet The Dog Was Living On in response to the worst outbreaks of heresy, daemon invasions, or alien threats. Billions are killed, but the alternative is generally much, much ''worse.''
** The number of times preventative measures such as Exterminatus are justified are balanced by the equal number of times in which they are not, but are used anyway because the people in power are deranged lunatics like the Monodominants. It is a rather [[WorldHalfEmpty grim setting]] after all.
*** All instances of Exterminatus are put under Inquisitorial review. If insufficient justification is found, the person who ordered it is sentenced to immediate execution, or to be killed on sight if they have already fled. Also, Exterminatus is not used nearly as often as [[FanDumb certain parts]] of the fandom make it seem. Exterminatus being {{Flanderiz|ation}}ed into something the Imperium does if someone on a planet sneezes and it sounds vaguely like "Chaos!" is pure {{Fanon}}.
** This is based on the real life way old fashioned armies operated. When a military unit (UK anyway) forms up to do drill, the [=NCOs=] are at the back of the formation and march behind the unit. They were originally there to shoot soldiers who ran from the enemy, as formation drill was originally about standing up with no cover in massed ranks and shooting at each other. The idea was that if you stand there and take the fire, there's a pretty good chance you'll be shot, but if you run the Sergeant will definitely get you.
*** In many countries desertion in the face of the enemy (as opposed to going AWOL) holds the death penalty if convicted by a Court Martial.
*** Including the US, though rarely invoked nowadays.
* In ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings'', the Scorpion clan's 'hat' is that they exist solely to shoot the necessary dogs. The Scorpion, despite being traitorous bastards, are extremely loyal to the Emperor, and people who are worthy friends. Make sure you are one of those two, and preferably both.
** A story explaining them: An author asks, in jest, each clan what the most important virtue is. Each clan picks one, and the Scorpions pick loyalty, while the Lions pick honor. The other clans laugh at the Scorpion talking of Loyalty, since they are traitorous bastards. The Scorpion proposes that each Daimyo will call his greatest warrior in, and give him a task. The one whose warrior does not hesitate, loses. The others are suspicious, but he talks them into it, offering to demonstrate the task first. He calls his warrior in, stares at the author, and gives her a look that says, "You know what I am about to do." He then says his command. "Kill me." Without hesitation, the Scorpion Warrior kills his Daimyo, then draws a knife and commits ''seppuku''. Everyone else can only stare in awe.
* The titular [[PlayerCharacter Nobles]] of ''TabletopGame/{{Nobilis}}'', who [[AGodAmI have transcended human morality anyway]], do some bad, bad things in their ForeverWar against the OmnicidalManiac Excrucians.
* This was pretty much Urza's whole hat in the original storyline for ''MagicTheGathering.'' He had several thousand years to prevent a [[SwarmOfAlienLocusts Phyrexian Invasion]] on his home plane of Dominaria. In the end, he started wars, killed thousands, ruined other planes (particular Rath and Mercadia), betrayed the person who was the closest thing he'd ever had to a son, sacrificed the lives of half a dozen other [[PhysicalGod pre-sundering Planeswalkers]], and was himself destroyed. When the smoke cleared, Dominaria was badly damaged, but still standing, while Phyrexia was a ruined husk, it's [[DeusEstMachina Machine-God]] destroyed in the process. Pity that ItGotBetter a few years down the line.
* One bit of flavour in ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' is a message from a Firewall veteran telling you how much of your career will consist of this and how shitty you will feel afterwards. One of the examples given involves a child infected with TheVirus, and a [[ThrownOutTheAirlock handy airlock]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* In ''Theatre/{{Philoctetes}}'', after spending ten years away from home caught in a war with heavy casualties, it's reasonable that if Odysseus knew of a way to end it soon and with Greek victory, he would pursue that course. That course requires bringing a crippled man he had personally wronged and left alone on a DesertedIsland for years back to the war front. He is pragmatic in trying this first by deceit and then by force, because the man would never agree, but it's not very flattering for Odysseus.
* In ''Theatre/AllMySons'', this is discussed when Chris is arguing with Ann about why he can't put his father in jail where he deserves to be. "We used to shoot a man who acted like a dog, but honor was real there, you were protecting something," Chris says. In this dog-eat-dog world, however, Chris doesn't see any sense in singling out his father for acting the way everyone else has to, even though "it just happened to kill a few people this time."
[[/folder]]

[[folder: WebComics ]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheWotch'', [[spoiler: [[http://www.thewotch.com/?epDate=2006-10-18 Miranda]] offs Natasha Dahlet]].
* There was debate among the ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' fandom about whether Petey's making the Tricameral Assembly into an object lesson in the necessity of a healthy defense budget in the Teraport age by vaporizing them from orbit was a Shoot the Dog moment or falling through the MoralEventHorizon... [[spoiler: However, the revelation that the "vaporizing" was just a show to scare the other governments into compliance, and that he'd merely teleported them away to draft them into his attempt to save the Andromeda Galaxy -- and the universe in general -- from hostile Dark Matter aliens made it pretty clear it's the former]].
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', [[SmugSnake Lord Kubota]] surrenders to avoid being killed, and once captured, proceeds to outline his plan to escape justice by manipulating the upcoming trial to an enraged Elan, who can't do anything about it. Vaarsuvius, however, overhears, and takes [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0595.html measures to eliminate the obviously still dangerous threat because Elan can't.]]
* Baron Wulfenbach in ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' apparently has to do this a lot. [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20050803 At one point]] the heroine has to be talked into leaving a situation for him to deal with because they know he'll do it. (The fact that as the ruler of most of Europe he's much better ''equipped'' to handle it probably factored in as well.)
* In ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'', Rilian the First Necromancer has taken the role of Dog Shooter several times, and is always ready to do so again. Rilian has killed [[spoiler:Acibek]] on [[spoiler:Acibek]]'s request to seal the Storm of Souls the first time. He later killed [[spoiler:the first Sylvan Oracle]] to deal with the Storm a second time. He's also let [[spoiler:the Deegan's worst enemy]] threaten Dominic and [[spoiler:his brothers as children]], because he knew [[spoiler:their mother]] would [[MamaBear kill her to protect them]]. Later yet, he arranged for a "test" of Dominic and Luna, to see if Dominic was ready to Mindbreak; since Mindbreak is essentially a psychic SuperpowerMeltdown, it is a '''''very bad thing'''''. If Dominic failed any of the tests, Rilian was ready to kill him. Rilian noted once that his role requires him to be cold.
** Immediately afterwards, it was revealed that Rilian was able to [[spoiler:be his old jolly self around Dominic]] during the test, making the whole scene a rare case of [[PetTheDog Petting The Dog]] while holding a gun behind your back.
*** In a twist, while unaware of Rilian's {{plan}}, Dominic did check his future if he [[spoiler:didn't go on the trip]] -- definite Mindbreak and the mass murder of anyone within range -- which, given Dominic is one of the more powerful psychics in his universe, is pretty darned big.
* In ''Webcomic/LookingForGroup'', Cale'Anon on his quest to redeem his evil race through personal heroism, is railroaded by Forces Beyond His Control to murder a child in order to save the future. [[spoiler: The child turned out to be the Arch-Mage in disguise (and [[UnexplainedRecovery he got better]] as soon as they left), so it was actually a SecretTestOfCharacter.]]
* In ''{{Webcomic/Harkovast}}'', Quinn-Tain breaks Brightleaf's [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Harkovast/index.php?p=704692 neck]] because he considers after she has already been disarmed and is helpless. He considers this to be essential to serve as a warning to others. This gets a furious reaction from [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Harkovast/index.php?p=716796 Scatterpod]]. After she has gone, Quinn-Tain expresses [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Harkovast/index.php?p=722223 regret]], but still considers his actions necessary evils.
* The Wild Zones of ''Webcomic/ZombieRanch'' are populated with "practical sorts" who either lived through the ZombieApocalypse or grew up knowing that zed bites are best dealt with quickly and with a minimum of fuss. The law's even on your side, as discussed [[http://www.zombieranchcomic.com/2010/11/17/52-a-moment-with-uncle-chuck/ here]].
* Towards the end of Act Five of ''WebComic/{{Homestuck}}'', [[spoiler:Vriska is about to leave the trolls' hiding place to try to confront [[BigBad Jack Noir]]. However, [[BlindSeer Terezi]], who has the power to predict the consequences of decisions, has foreseen that if Vriska leaves, Jack will follow her trail back and kill everyone remaining on the asteroid. Vriska refuses to listen, guessing that Terezi won't have the guts to stop her. [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice She guessed wrong]].]]
** Later, Aranea [[Film/TheWizardOfOz drops a house]] on [[spoiler: Jade, who really is part dog]], due to said dog being under villainous mind-control that would only be continuously reapplied if she were to live.
* [[http://meninhats.com/d/20040802.html Played with]] in ''Webcomic/MenInHats'':
-->'''Aram''': See me shredding the papers? This is the only humane way to deal with them. Like putting a dog to sleep instead of letting it run around with a tumor in its brain.\\
'''Beriah''': ...Is that why Scruffy's gone?\\
'''Aram''': No, that dog was just ugly.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]
* ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' character Adam Dodd was forced to euthanise his friend Marcus Roddy, as he had fallen into a coma. Most of the rest of his group didn't agree with the action, but Adam pointed out that had they left him catatonic, somebody else would have just come along and done the same, or he would have just been eaten by animals or some equally gruesome fate.
* Among the many morally-grey choices characters make in ''{{Literature/Worm}}'' is, in [[http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/sting-26-6/ Chapter 26.6]], [[spoiler:Weaver]] shooting [[spoiler:Aster]] to prevent [[spoiler:Jack's Slaughterhouse Nine]] from doing their thing and [[spoiler:possibly causing the end of the world]]. What makes this example all the more depressing is [[spoiler: it turned out to be meaningless as it was something else entirely that will cause the end of the world.]]
* Happens a lot in ''ShadowUnit''; one instance involved an actual dog, which (hidden for squick) [[spoiler: a gamma nicknamed "Mrs. Chow" had started ''eating''. Alive. From the middle.]]
* Diddybob in ''MindMyGap'' finds himself stuck on the mountains with his only son Jona screaming and crying his head off. Nothing he tries to sooth him helps and the cries become too much for him to bear. He's right at the end of his mind until he's interrupted by the man from the mountains. "You've got a gun in that frikkin suitcase no? What are you waiting for? Use it man!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'' episode "Lost Treasure Of The Golden Squirrel", Skipper comments that money can't buy honour or respect - just as he looks into the Eyes of the Squirrel and sees himself buying an arsenal of high-grade military weapons to blow up hippies with as his greatest desire.
* Happens several times in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' and ''Justice League Unlimited''. These unpleasant-but-necessary duties seem to fall on Shayera "Hawkgirl" Hol's shoulders quite frequently:
** In "The Savage Time", in the middle of a retreat, Franchise/GreenLantern tells Hawkgirl to leave him behind so she can carry wounded soldiers out in his place. She does so without argument.
** In "Starcrossed", she helps the Thanagarian invasion force defeat the League and conquer the Earth, because she believed the occupation of Earth was necessary to defeat the Gordanians, which was in the best interests of both her home planet Thanagar and Earth. (Though she draws the line at ''destroying'' Earth to save Thanagar, and she turns on her brethren upon discovering that they intend to do exactly that.)
** In "Wake the Dead" Solomon Grundy gets reanimated through Chaos Magic as a raging, mindless zombie, and the only merciful option is to kill him (again):
--->'''Dr. Fate:''' (to Shayera) Your mace may be [[AntiMagic the only thing]] that can give the creature peace.
--->'''Green Lantern:''' What are you saying?
--->'''Shayera:''' Your favorite movie is ''Film/OldYeller'', you know '''exactly''' what he's saying.
** TheQuestion gets in on the act in "Question Authority". He struggles for months about how to prevent the events that led, in an AlternateUniverse, to the Justice League becoming [[KnightTemplar fascist rulers]] of the world--events that centered around {{Franchise/Superman}} murdering SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor. Question's solution: go kill Lex himself (using his tie). After all, Supes is the ultimate good guy, and Question's a confirmed loony conspiracy nut. (Unfortunately, the real conspiracy Question uncovered in the process of confronting Lex was a bit more than he could handle.)
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'': In the episode "Framed," Ben and his EvilCounterpart Kevin 11 are dueling on a bridge, surrounded by an army led by Lieutenant Steele, an InspectorJavert alien hunter, whom Ben just stopped Kevin from killing. After Ben [[SwordOverHead wins and spares Kevin]], he ends up dangling from the bridge.
-->'''Kevin''': You know why you can't beat me? Cause you're a good guy, and good guys never have the guts to finish guys like me!
-->'''Steele''': But I do. ''(orders his men to shoot Kevin down)''
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Avatars Kyoshi and Yangchen (and probably others, [[MessianicArchetype but notably not Aang]]) believe this to be part of the duty of the Avatar.
** WordOfGod has it that only was Kyoshi actively advocating that Aang kill the Fire Lord. Yangchen's advice ("be prepared to sacrifice your spiritual needs") is ambiguous, as Yangchen was not necessarily stating that killing Ozai was the ''best'' option; she was only telling Aang that, if a better option didn't present itself, killing Ozai was a very viable option, and not something to be dismissed out of hand because Aang was feeling squeamish.
** For her part Kyoshi takes responsibility for the death of a conqueror during her time as the Avatar, who fell off of a cliff after Kyoshi separated her home from the main continent. When Aang consults her in later episodes, he claims that [[KarmicDeath she was not responsible for his death as he was killed by a freak accident when the rocks he was standing on fell away]]. Kyoshi [[DefiedTrope refuses to recognize the distinction]], and adds that she would have killed him had it come down to that.
** Sokka also has a tendency to this. At one point, he immediately leaps on a (somewhat poor) village's asking how they can be repaid despite Katara's KeepTheReward attitude, pointing out that trips across the world are expensive. [[spoiler: He also goes back on a promise made to a powerful spirit who is disgusted by human belligerence (made on his behalf by Aang, no less) in order to discover information necessary for forming a strategy to defeat the Fire Nation.]] Notably, when Aang hesitates to "kill" a training dummy of the Fire Lord and asks how he can be expected to kill another human being, Sokka coldly lops the training dummy's head off with his sword and replies, "like that." Sokka acts as the team's PluckyComicRelief so much that it's easy to forget that he's also the prince of a [[ProudWarriorRace warrior tribe]] and has trained in warfare his entire life.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'', when Robin [[spoiler:becomes Red X to uncover Slade's plans]].
* In the season 2 finale of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', [[spoiler:Optimus Prime destroys the Omega Lock -- thus ruining any chance of restoring Cybertron -- in order to prevent Megatron from using it to terraform Earth and wiping out humanity in the process.]]
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012'' where in an episode of Leonardo's favorite sci-fi show one character gets taken over by a PuppeteerParasite and another character instantly decides they should kill him, doing so without a second thought.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Other ]]
* In ''A World Gone Mad'', Jack Bauer-esque AntiHero Agent Griffin's whole philosophy is that someone like him has to do horrible things in order to protect the naive, peace-loving citizens who don't even know he exists. The joke is that he's ''horribly incompetent''. So, not only does he kill civilians, cause the death of innocents, double-cross his own allies, and torture prisoners out of necessity, he often ends up killing, double-crossing, or torturing the ''wrong'' civilians, innocents, allies, or prisoners who have absolutely nothing to do with whatever evil plot he's trying to stop. It helps that he's a SociopathicHero and KarmaHoudini.
* A classic cover for the National Lampoon magazine features a gun being held to the head of a dog with the warning "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog". At the time the magazine was struggling, so the cover was intentionally controversial to inspire interest.
** [[CrossesTheLineTwice On the back, the gun is smoking and the dog is missing with the comment "You should have bought the magazine!"]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* GeorgeWashington (hero number one in the U.S.A) has a Shoot the Dog episode among his many awesome moments. With the revolution in danger of falling apart due to the demoralizing effect of endless military defeats, Washington broke the traditional Christmas truce to [[http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall96/images/delaware.jpg lead troops across the Delaware River]] and sneak attack a group of enemy mercenaries. The resulting lopsided victory had a crucial psychological effect.
* The real reason for the disastrous Dieppe raid of 1942 was to ease considerable pressure on Britain to launch an invasion of France that year. Churchill chose to deliberately sacrifice 7,000 men, several Navy vessels and a lot of aircraft to make the point to Russia and America that any premature attempt to invade France would be a total and utter disaster and it was best to plan ahead and do it properly in 1944. He chose to have a battle Britain could not possibly win to make this point as dramatically as possible.
* The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain controversial to this day, but those who defend them claim that, despite the horrific damage and cost of life, they prevented a longer and inevitably more bloody invasion of Japan. At the very least, they unambiguously saved the lives of almost every Allied [=POW=] being held by Japan. Their captors had orders to kill them if it was announced the Allies were actually invading Japan.
* A more literal example caused the suppressed version of the Smith & Wesson Model 39 pistol to be called a "Hush Puppy." Its purpose was for special forces teams to covertly eliminate sentry dogs and guards without alerting the main target. There is also the more openly marketed "Velo-dog" revolver, specifically developed for early cyclists to defend themselves from dogs.
* Another thing pretty close to literal is modern science's experiments on various animals, including dogs, for the sake of medical research. Whether you consider it justified or not, the reality is, many of the medical procedures that save lives today would not exist without experiments on animals, and if it weren't animals used as test subjects, it would be humans.
* German soldiers in World War II actually had orders to shoot every stray dog they encountered on the eastern front on sight. This was the result of the Soviets experimenting with "anti-tank dogs" that had a bomb strapped to them, a triggering mechanism on their backs, and were meant to run under German tanks. The dogs were easily confused by the loud noises of the battlefields and had no way of knowing how to differentiate a German from a Soviet tank, and the project wasn't pursued much further. So the Germans decided to ShootTheDog literally because the Soviets did figuratively.
* Operation Catapult during WWII. Britain's main ally, France, has fallen to German forces and has signed an Armistice. Britain, resolved to fight on, is worried that Hitler will now be able to seize the well-equipped and trained French Navy. So the British launched a surprise attack on their former ally's fleet at Mers-el-Kébir. Caught completely by surprise by [[EtTuBrute their erstwhile comrades]], the French rapidly lost the battleship ''Bretagne'' and suffered crippling damage to the rest of their fleet. Britain would not be threatened by French ships, and would eventually be the jumping point for the liberation of France.
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] courtesy of [[BadassIsraeli the Israeli Defense Force]] with the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVcOQUisM0w Kitty Corner Shot]].
[[/folder]]

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