-> ''"He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was truly evil at heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace."''
-->-- ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', when Sam sees the body of a warrior of the Haradrim.

On the death of an InnocentBystander who got caught in a crossfire, or when a WorthyOpponent is killed, a lead character will look down on the body and murmur sadly, "What a senseless waste of human life."

Can also ensue if a wounded character insisted ICanStillFight, trying to prove something, and died of his injuries.

Compare AMillionIsAStatistic and WeHaveReserves. Contrast WhatMeasureIsAMook. Often used in instances where the author is trying to show that EvenEvilHasStandards as a sympathetic villain has no problem killing enemy combatants but will balk at the idea of harming an innocent.

Beware: this trope '''inherently reveals death or loss.''' There might be unmarked spoilers.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* As for ''Anime/CodeGeass'', Lelouch is responsible for Euphemia's death an episode after his Geass ability accidentally activates while he suggests that she kill all the Japanese for the sake of an example of how Geass works; she proceeds to kill all the Japanese who had registered for the Special Administrated Zone and issue orders to have them all executed shortly thereafter. In the middle of R2, Suzaku's command to live forces him to launch a [[FantasticNuke FLEIJA warhead]] to distract Kallen during the Second Battle of Tokyo, which causes the deaths of some 35,000,000 civilians. The clearest example of this is the scene in which Shirley is killed by Rolo, and her death accomplishes absolutely nothing; she didn't even have to die, they didn't have anything to gain from it, and Rolo still killed her. It would have been just as lovely an anime if they didn't die (if not even better than it was), but the fact that they did allows the protagonist to undergo character development so that the audience can understand how he thinks, and that those people are what truly mattered, and if they hadn't, the plot wouldn't have acknowledged the meaning their lives had.
* In Manga/OnePiece, the Marines' Buster Call never fails to bring about these moments.
** During the first known Buster Call, not only was an entire island utterly destroyed on the World Government's orders, but an evacuation ship carrying the island's civilians was [[ShootTheDog shot down]] by a thorough [[KnightTemplar Vice Admiral]], shocking even the sadistic agent who initially ordered the attack.
** Later, the Marines initiate a Buster Call ''on their own judicial island'', and yet ''another'' [[KnightTemplar Vice Admiral]] sees fit to blow up an allied ship with 1000 marine soldiers and shoot one of his own soldiers who spoke of this trope - all just to kill Luffy.
*** Actually that instance was triggered ''accidentally'' by [[SmugSnake Spandam]]. However, that just makes it even more senseless.
** A version (of the trope, not of the Buster Call) is, surprisingly, pulled off by crybaby Coby at [[spoiler:Ace's execution after he is killed and the marines and pirates are still fighting.]]
*** Or rather [[spoiler:that the pirates have given up and started a retreat. But the Marines, lead by a war-mongering Akainu, press the attack. Eventually Coby can't take it anymore and yells for them to stop the senselessness of it all.]]
* ''[[Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid]]''. Gates says this after [[BadBoss murdering one of his own mooks]] for backchatting him. But he's just plain nuts.
* ''Manga/MakenKi'' {{invert|edTrope}}s it, by having Leo try to reason with Takeru, ''[[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/57/20/ before]]'' he killed Gouken. Leo tried telling him that it wouldn't solve anything, since [[spoiler:[[BigBad Takeru Yamato]]]] would simply [[BodySurf possess a new body.]] Nor was is it what [[spoiler:Himegami]] would've wanted him to do. But Takeru was so enraged that he still did it anyway. In the end, it changed nothing. Gouken had simply been a victim [[http://readpanda.net/Maken-ki/57/25/ of Takeru's frustration.]]
* [[spoiler:Iserina]] from the Anime/MobileSuitGundam TV series tries to avenge the death of her boyfriend, [[spoiler:Garma Zabi]] She only ends up dead, and the White Base crew end up reflecting on how useless her RoaringRampageOfRevenge was.
* This is Manga/{{Naruto}}'s reason for wanting to stop the Fourth Shinobi War. [[spoiler:Apparently, it doesn't matter to him if the opposing army consist of mindless, expendable mooks, zombie ninjas, magical stone giants all. Though it may be his side, the living side, he's worried about and he didn't know about the opposing side being non-human.]]
** [[spoiler:Now even more senseless now that the [[EldritchAbomination Ten-Tails]] has been fully resurrected, albeit not at full power.]]
* Volume 15 of Manga/FullmetalAlchemist is this trope, due to its focus on the characters' flashback on Ishvallan War.
* In episode 12 of ''Manga/BlackLagoon'', Masahiro Tanaka says this after [[spoiler:killing his friend Ibraha to prevent him from sending their soldiers charging into certain death.]]
-->"That was our problem; you and I could only look to the past. But if we keep doing that, nothing will ever change, will it? Still, I suppose none of this matters anymore, but [[ItHasBeenAnHonor you were a good comrade to me all the same]]. What a goddamn waste."
* ''Anime/CrossAnge'': Embryo laments Julio going against his orders and ordering a massacre on Arzenal.
* In ''LightNovel/KumoDesuGaNaniKa'' Julius regrets the death of Blow, a WorthyOpponent who also had a brother waiting at home. The nearby Shiraori instead respects Blow's death as proof of his determination and pride.
** Not long after Shiraori is forced to destroy the Demon's First Army due to interference by Sariel. She regrets having to do so as she'd had plans for the army and respected their leader, Argnar.
--->'''Shiraori''': Sorry, Argnar. In order to grant the future you wish for the demons, the only option was to abandon you.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Commented by the Joker in ''Comicbook/ArkhamAsylumASeriousHouseOnSeriousEarth'', after pointlessly shooting a security guard. Apparently a direct reference to the Monty Python sketch.
* Also said by Captain Boomerang in ''Comicbook/SuicideSquad'' after letting Mindboggler get gunned down from behind.
* Subverted in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}} and the Actress'', where the civil war between Pompeius and Caesar is shown, and Asterix and Obelix are passing near the site of one ongoing battle. Obelix's reaction is that of "What a waste of life", but in the sense that every dead Roman means one more Roman he can't hit later.

* In ''Film/TheBridgeOnTheRiverKwai'', Major Clipton embodies this trope when looking out over the dead soldiers from both sides in the end, exclaiming: "Madness... Madness!"
* In ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly'', during the extended Civil War battle subplot, the main duo is watching a completely pointless battle and Blondie comments, "I've never seen so many men wasted so badly."
* Subverted in ''Film/LicenceToKill'', where Sharky has the memorable line: "What a terrible waste... of money." after Bond kills a corrupt official by tossing a briefcase containing two million dollars at him, knocking him and the money into a shark pool.
* In TheMovie of ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Two Towers]]'', Faramir speaks a paraphrased version of the narration quoted above.
* A running motif throughout ''Film/CaptainClegg'' is when naval officer Captain Collier (an InspectorJavert type character) is unwilling to remove his NiceHat. When he's in the service of the king, he won't, but off-duty and in the service of his maker (i.e. in church) he will. So at the end of the movie, when he sees the dead body of his enemy (the titular Clegg), he removes his hat.
* ''Film/LastClearChance'', a 1950s driving safety film put out by Union Pacific, ends with the protagonist's brother being killed when he [[TooDumbToLive takes his eyes off the road and gets hit by a train]]. In the aftermath, the train's driver intones heavily "Why don't they look?" When ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' riffed on the film, they had a field day spoofing such films, but with less dangerous items...like uncooked bacon. As Mike, bacon across his eyes, screams in horror in the background, Crow comments "Why don't they look?"
* Subverted at the end of ''Film/TheRocketeer''. When Peevy sarcastically reads a news article claiming [[BigBad Neville Sinclair]] was killed when "[[BlatantLies flaming debris fell on his touring car]]," he concludes, "That's terrible. That was a nice car..."
* A couple times in ''Film/{{Zulu}}'', and wrong on both counts.
* In ''Film/{{Patton}}'', as the American artillery wreaks havoc on the German forces during the Battle of El Guettar, Patton remarks it being, "a damn waste of fine infantry."

* In Eddings' ''[[Literature/TheBelgariad Belgarath The Sorcerer]]'', after witnessing a large battle, Poledra reminds you she has NoSocialSkills with a simple line:
-->''"What are they going to do with all this meat?"''
** Interestingly, Belgarath thinks a little about it and ponders that there would probably be less war if the winners were ''forced'' to eat the losers.
** And to be fair, this took place centuries before Poledra first took human form. A wolf asking about meat disposal isn't really a big deal.
* In some novels of TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} you find that not all the imperial commanders think about their troops as expendable cannon fodder and they will condemn their [[GeneralFailure collegues]] who seem to keep using HollywoodTactics to achieve their military objectives, or just let people (including civilians) get massacred due their incompetence.
* In the Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Edge of Battle'', [[spoiler:Zakharov]] makes such a comment when he sees that [[spoiler:Frank Falcone]], who he believed was committed enough to do what had to be done, has a MyGodWhatHaveIDone moment and is DrivenToSuicide.
* In Literature/TheBible, David makes this speech at least twice, once over Saul and Jonathan, once over Abner.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', Voldemort says at the battle of Hogwarts that he hates to see magical blood spilled because it is such a waste. (And given the population of wizards in the Harry Potter universe, it ''is a waste!''. Mainly because he wants to conscript any witches or wizards still breathing into being Death Eaters, [[MindRape like it or not]].)
* In ''Literature/TheSagaOfDarrenShan'', Kurda dislikes the other vampires' ProudWarriorRaceGuy antics, saying that of the nine vampires that had died over the past 12 years (between two council meetings), five could have been there had they not been overeager to flaunt their strength and prove something.
* ''Literature/WolfHall''
** Thomas Cromwell, while dealing with the prophesying nun [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Barton Elizabeth Barton]], feels that she was looking for attention than anything else, was probably abused, and that she was [[UnwittingPawn unfairly exploited]] by the monks, the Poles, and the Courtenays without realizing the consequences of her actions. When doing the paperwork to have her executed and her paltry assets seized, he provides her the bribe she'll need so that the hangman will let her die quickly.
** He also has this attitude about Mark Smeaton, a slightly irritating but ultimately harmless musician in Anne Boleyn's inner circle whom Cromwell targets as the way to bring her down for adultery and treason. Mark had worked for Cromwell's mentor Cardinal Wolsey, and Cromwell thinks that if he'd hired the boy into his own household (as he had with a number of Wolsey's other displaced servants) he could have made him into a useful man with self-respect instead of a perpetual boy hoping for scraps of attention at the queen's door. But their mutual disdain back then precluded it; oh well.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Pick a CopShow, any cop show.
** A standout example: The ''Series/AdamTwelve'' episode "Log 52: Good Cop Handle with Care," where two freelance journalists harass Malloy and Reed as they go about their daily beat. Despite Malloy warning the two that their actions will cause a tragedy, the pair continue to hassle the show's main protagonists, and things eventually reach the trope making point when the officers stop a car operated by armed robbery suspects. One of the reporters taunts the officers, and in the process one of the robbers shoots and fatally wounds an innocent passer-by (a father with two young children at home). Malloy is very angry at the journalists and basically tells them, "Look what you've done now!"
* Parodied in the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' "Cheese Shop" sketch where Creator/JohnCleese's character shoots the shop proprietor (Creator/MichaelPalin) after learning the place is completely devoid of cheese, then comments, "[[TropeNamers What a senseless waste of human life.]]"
** And leaves after [[TheDrifter putting on a cowboy hat]] he pulled out of nowhere.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' used variants; often the life he was regretting the loss of ''wasn't'' human.
** One notable case is in the episodes [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E8HumanNature "Human Nature"]] and [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E9TheFamilyofBlood "The Family of Blood"]], where ''the Doctor'' is the cause of the senseless loss of human life. As Joan Redford points out:
-->'''Joan:''' If the Doctor hadn't chosen this place to hide, on a whim, would anyone have died?
** The real tragedy of those two episodes is that the senseless waste of human life resulted from the Doctor trying to avoid a senseless waste of ''villain'' lives.
** Heck, even the [[TheNthDoctor First Doctor]] had such a moment -- the Daleks have just activated their superweapon, but instead of doing what they thought it would do, it ended up aging everything in the planet they were into dust. ''Everything''.
*** In fact, he had another in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS3E5TheMassacre the very next story]], having just fled Paris on realising that one of the worst events in the city's history was about to happen:
--->The massacre lasted for several days in Paris and spread to other parts of France. Oh, what a terrible waste. What a dreadful page of the past.
** Probably the iconic one is [[Recap/DoctorWhoS21E1WarriorsOfTheDeep "Warriors of the Deep"]]: "There should have been another way."
* Speaking of ''Series/DoctorWho'': rather chillingly referenced in this [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsFE-TONe2w public information film]] starring C. Eccleston.
* In the ''Series/RedDwarf'' episode "Out Of Time", Kryten deploys the term in advance when, thanks to visiting time-travelers, he learns that Lister is going to [[spoiler:end up as a disembodied brain in a jar.]]
* [[Creator/AntAndDec Dec]] wails [[{{Troperiffic}} exactly the trope name]] over Ant's body in an episode of ''[[SMTVLive Chums]]'', after accidentally shooting him. [[FreudianSlip Three times]]. (He got better.)

* The song "Attica State" by Music/JohnLennon and Music/YokoOno exemplifies the trope almost verbatim as it opens with the lyrics: "What a waste of human power, what a waste of human life."
* Pagan Altar's "Sentinels of Hate". It's essentially about all the common people who have died throughout history because some nobleman wanted more land, or wanted some group destroyed because they didn't worship the right god.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/BlackAndWhite 2'', the good conscience says this word-for-word if you start killing your own villiagers. It seems to happen more often if your alignment is 'good'.
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemShadowDragonAndTheBladeOfLight'' (and its remake, ''Shadow Dragon''), [[WorthyOpponent Camus's]] death by MyCountryRightOrWrong and HonorBeforeReason is treated as such. [[spoiler:Subverted: He comes BackFromTheDead in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemGaiden'' and ''VideoGame/FireEmblemMysteryOfTheEmblem'', and not only that, he actually joins you]].
* Almost identical words ("''What a pitiful waste of a human life''") are actually part of the lyrics of ''VideoGame/TotalDistortion'''s Game Over song. Quite fitting since the protagonist is basically an entrepreneur who wanders an alternate dimension chock-full of hostilities merely for profit...
* Invoked in ''VideoGame/MetroLastLight'' by the Red Line's General Korbut as he walks through the wreckage of the Rangers' bloody but futile last stand in D6. "What an unforgivable waste of men and resources."
* Mister Burke from ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' will sometimes utter the phrase "Some people have no respect for the sanctity of life" when seeing somebody getting killed. Burke is, however, TheDragon to the evil Mr. Tenpenny and a bit of a SmugSnake who also plans to blow up a whole town, so he is just as prone to utter: "Natural selection... at its finest."
* Lino En Kuldes says this during the climax of ''VideoGame/SuikodenIV'', after watching [[spoiler:Troy choose to go down with his ship after losing a showdown with the hero]].
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'', CJ says a variation of this after [[spoiler:killing friend-turned-crack-pusher Smoke]].
* Inverted by ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. When [[LateArrivalSpoiler Illidan is killed]], he uses his dying words to mock Maiev, who has wasted her entire being on hunting him, [[AndThenWhat and now has nothing left to live for]].
** In the Mists of Pandaria expansion, the player can overhear a conversation between two Paragons (great warriors of mantid history that had been put under stasis to be reawakened by the cultural caretakers of their society if their current monarch threatened to ruin them) discuss how one of them had been awakened for the second time since being originally placed under hibernation. The first empress he helped overthrow had been holding on to power by declaring the ritualistic centennial attack on their neighboring kingdom as a senseless waste of life. It turned out, however, she was only lying to preserve her power.
* Inverted/parodied in ''VideoGame/DiabloII'', when the Necromancer defeats Radamant and his undead forces: "What a waste of undead flesh..."
* After killing [[TheDragon The Sympathetic Dragon]] in ''VideoGame/TargetEarth'', the protagonist mutters "Another good man dead."
* While he never says it straight, [[VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes Travis Touchdown]] eventually views all of his victories against later assassins as this, particularly the ones who weren't psychotic killing machines such as Alice Twilight and Margaret Moonlight.
-->'''Travis''': Fuck that. I wanna be hero. By my own standards.\\
'''Sylvia''': You need to wake up, Travis.\\
'''Travis''': Take your own goddamn advice.
* Pops up in ''VideoGame/StarWarsBattlefront II'', in the Imperial era of the campaign. The Death Star casualties, particularly the pilots who were rotated in in place of the 501st, are referred to by the narrator as "poor souls."
* The Pawn Shop Owner says this in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVIHeirTodayGoneTomorrow'', [[spoiler:unaware that Alex has [[FauxDeath faked his own death]] in front of Shamir]].
* One of [[TheConscience Aveline's]] bits of combat chatter in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' is a sad "A waste of life, but not my choice."
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar II'' Lord General Castor treads this.
--> Castor: I am not afraid to spend them, but I never waste men.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' has Mordin's loyalty mission. [[spoiler:Years before the start of the game, Mordin worked on updating the [[DepopulationBomb genophage]] affecting krogan birth rates.]] During the mission, you'll find the corpse of a krogan on what looks like a surgical table. Up until that point, [[MotorMouth Mordin]] insisted that his work was the correct thing to do for every party involved; at that moment, however...
-->Dead krogan. Female. Tumours indicate [[PlayingWithSyringes experimentation.]] [[TearJerker No restraint marks. Volunteer. Sterile Weyrloc female willing to risk procedures. Hoped for cure.]] Pointless. Pointless waste of life. [...] Never experimented on live krogan! Never killed with medicine! Her death not my work, only reaction to it. [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone Goal was to stabilize population. Never wanted this. Can see it logically... but still unnecessary.]] ''Foolish'' waste of life...! [...] Krogan researchers ruthless. Risking own clan's women for more data. ''Disgusting.'' Shortsighted. Wrong.
** One of Commander Shepard's dialogue options presents a humorous subversion.
--->'''Mordin:''' Pointless. Pointless waste of life.\\
'''Shepard:''' Her, or the people who did this?
* In ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'', [[TeamDad Bill]] may occasionally choke out "Aw, Jesus, what a ''waste''!" upon seeing [[LikeADaughterToMe Zoey's]] dead body.
* Stated twice in ''VideoGame/FreeSpace'', both times in response to the commanders of crippled and severely outgunned capital ships who attempt to ram rather than surrender and get blown out of the sky for their troubles.
* In ''VideoGame/MegaManX4'', this is how X feels after defeating Magma Dragoon, since they had been allies for quite some time and Dragoon's only real reason for [[FaceHeelTurn going rogue]] was wanting a [[WorthyOpponent good fight with X]]. It's also notably the only time in the game X or Zero don't do their victory pose before teleporting away after a battle.
-->'''X:''' Such a waste... Why, Dragoon?\\
'''Dragoon:''' Always... wanted to... fight... you...

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** Subverted when Troy [=McClure=] appears in a ''Red Asphalt''-style traffic safety video, observing a car accident and uttering this line in a heavy tone of voice. Then he instantly brightens and goes into his usual introductory spiel.
** Challenged in one episode when Marge discovers a convict named Jack Crowley who not only seems like a good person at heart but also has immense talent as an artist. Marge almost utters the line word for word when she remarks on what a waste of talent it is for him to be locked behind bars and ignores all the warnings from the Warden that he's merely charming Marge and isn't worth trying to help. [[spoiler:It turns out the Warden was entirely right: Jack really is a very dangerous and imbalanced criminal, a ConsummateLiar, and a delusional pyromaniac who took every advantage of Marge.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{ReBoot}}'', Dot mourns the loss of Megabyte's army, because despite them being enemy soldiers, she's also aware that many of them were forcibly conscripted.
* Happens in the French series ''Once Upon a Time... Space'' as the [[RobotWar Humanoids obliterate the fleet of Cassiopeia]], the other villain faction. What makes this particularly hard is that the ones mourning the deaths of the Cassiopeian crews are the ''Humanoids themselves'', who spend a large part of the battle ''[[ApologeticAttacker begging the Cassiopeians to surrender and not force them to destroy them while simultaneously holding back to give them a chance to surrender]]''... At least until the Great Computer, the A.I. controlling them, gets annoyed and threatens to [[EarthShatteringKaboom blow up their homeworld]] if they don't surrender. And even then he manages to repeat his mourning.
--> "This is the Great Computer. Your foolishness knows no limits. You refused to surrender, and this is the result: the almost complete obliteration of your armada. This is our final message, so, listen me: surrender in one hour, or [[EarthShatteringKaboom your beloved homeworld of Cassiopeia shall be blown into smitherens]]. End message."
** The Italian dub has Peter, a member of [[TheFederation Omega]]'s SpacePolice, provide another one as he assists at the battle, concluding with "This is what happens when your leader is a madman". Given that the GloriousLeader of Cassiopeia, general Pest, is one of the best examples of AlwaysChaoticEvil in fiction, who dared to leave Omega only because he was sure the Humanoids were on ''his'' side and declared war on them just before they were supposed to deliver him a PlanetKiller (in fact ''he'' caused the Humanoids to be a threat, convincing them that [[WellIntentionedExtremist they had to rule on flesh and blood sentients to protect them from themselves]] when he approached them) and had [[DefiedTrope refused to]] [[EnemyMine rejoin Omega to fight the common enemy when the Humanoids revealed their true colours]], [[{{Understatement}} he has a point]][[note]]Not to mention to build a base using as workforce prisoners in a planet that orbits a star that can go supernova in any moment, ignoring the senators who warn him about the instability of said star, and once it blows up to send ships to rescue the hardware first and the workforce later.[[/note]]
** In the Spaniard Spanish dub the bit about the almost complete destruction of the Cassiopeian fleet was unfortunately lost. While the camera pans [[SceneryGorn over the wreckage of Cassiopeian warships]], the Great Computer simply mentions with scorn how unbelievable is that the Cassiopeians refuse to accept the evidence.