Sometimes the viewers are morons
, but sometimes the characters are even worse. In a story where a potential victim ends up Alone with the Psycho
, he or she will, upon working it out, stand there and bark questions at them instead of running away. Because obviously, cross-questioning a potential murderer about how he knew the victim was missing her wedding ring is a much more productive use of your time than clubbing him over the head with a brick and taking to the hills.
Usually this happens just after the police/hero and most of the audience have worked out that something is not right about the character, to help the slower viewers catch up. Alternatively, it allows the villain to explain
some element of the plot that would otherwise only be mentioned during their interrogation by the police.
Usually, the good guys turn up Just in Time
to stop the victim from buying the farm, thus throwing a wrench into the Darwinist machine
Compare Alone with the Psycho
and Have You Told Anyone Else?
- Subverted in the Ruse storyline where Emma investigates the Dollymop Murders; she apparently falls prey to this error, but it turns out she knows exactly what she's doing and has pre-arranged backup.
- Grimble from the Fables series figures out some holes in Werien Holt's story of being an ordinary fencer enslaved by Mr. Dark, and pulls a gun on him. Too bad Holt wasn't lying about his fencing skills.
- Happened off-screen in Sin City when Serial Killer Kevin kidnaps Marv's parole officer.
- Space Mutiny features one officer who yells "This is treason! Which I must report!" When he realizes the villain's traitorous plans. To said traitor and 4 of his hand-picked men. He doesn't make it out of the room.
- Dollhouse - second season. Sierra is made to return to the evil, evil man who forced her into the Dollhouse, permanently imprinted to love him this time. Topher finds a heart and gives her her original personality. So what does she do? Instead of bashing the guy on the head at the first opportunity, she sits there and smirks and is super-smug about how she never, ever, really loved him, and how she's in love with another man - what did she think was going to happen? Of course he starts beating the crap out of her and attempts to rape her.
- In "Forbidden Fruit", an episode of Taggart, the first victim's daughter notices that the killer knows something about the victim's house that he shouldn't proving that he is the killer. Instead of accepting his feeble explanation and going off to call the police, she continued to badger him with questions. Strangulation ensues.
- In the Angel pilot episode "City Of...", Cordelia notices that the house she's in has no reflective surfaces at all. Out loud, she realizes that she's in a vampire's house and challenges the owner — until her Sunnydale instincts catch up with her mouth and she tries to pretend that she was joking.
- Semi-averted in the new Battlestar Galactica. When the Cylon detector reveals that Boomer is a sleeper agent, Baltar realizes that it would probably be a bad idea to confront her with this while there is no one else around. He fakes the test result to say she is human. Then he promptly decides never to tell anyone ever rather than go immediately report her after she leaves and to thereafter just fake doing the test and say everyone came back human.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor does a really stupid version of this in the story "The Rescue". (Note that the First Doctor is sufficiently un-uber that a human murderer could pose a threat to him.) The only reason he isn't killed is because two other characters turn up in a way that could have been prearranged, but isn't played that way.
- He does this all the time. Lampshaded in "The Vampires of Venice", when he pauses in fleeing the gang of fanged alien fish-women to turn back and say, "Tell me the whole plan!" They just hiss menacingly, and he mutters, "One day that'll work," and turns to run again. (This is quite early in the episode; otherwise it would have worked.)
- In the second season of Forbrydelsen, Lund does this quite deliberately to the killer to bait him into giving himself away. He gives himself away by shooting her, but she's wearing a Bulletproof Vest. She also tries it in the third season, but the killer doesn't fall for it and she blows his brains all over his car instead.