Shoot the Dangerous Minion
Normally, when a villain who's a Bad Boss
kills off a minion, it is for You Have Failed Me
or You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
reasons, but not always. Sometimes, the minion in question is a complete psycho, and their superior will off them themselves (or congratulate the heroes if they do). The reasons for doing this vary, but are generally some combination of fear of the psycho becoming The Starscream
, fear that the psycho is so unstable that they will ruin the boss' schemes, and Even Evil Has Standards
and Please Shoot the Messenger
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Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball Z, Frieza blew up an entire planet because he was afraid the Saiyans who served as his low class soldiers could grow to overpower him. As it turns out, this was a legitimate concern, and despite (or perhaps because of) his extreme measures, it eventually happens.
- In Baccano!, Mafia Don Bartolo Runorata sets Gustavo Bagetta up against the Gandor Family in order to get rid of him after Gustavo becomes more trouble than he's worth. In the anime, Don Bartolo ends up blowing Gustavo away personally as a gesture of good faith to Eve Genoard; in the Light Novels, Luck Gandor does the honors, but not before pointing out to Gustavo that Don Bartolo is aware of his shenanigans and will be glad to be rid of him.
- In Bleach, Kugo Ginjo suggests to Shukuro Tsukishima to dispose of Moe Shishigawa after they're done with the Soul Reapers because his Fullbring ability could be too powerful for either of them.
- One Punisher story has Frank go back in time to the Prohibition and get a job with Al Capone (by demolishing some of his goons in seconds). He brings his enthusiastic aid in taking out other criminal gangs, and soon Capone is holding a victory banquet... where the guests are tied up and he walks among them with a baseball bat, beating up traitors and those who've displeased him, explicitly invoking this trope when it's Frank's turn. Frank gets rid of the rope and kills Capone (no Capone, no Mafia; no Mafia, no shootout in Central Park where his family was having a picnic...). And then it turns out it was All Just a Dream.
- In The Three Musketeers, Richelieu is happy for this reason when the heroes kill Milady and gives D'Artagnan a promotion/job as a reward. While the Cardinal was willing to use her services, he's Affably Evil, whereas she was a psycho vamp and thus he was happy to be rid of her.
- In the Hogfather, the head of the Assassins' Guild, Lord Downey is shown considering the possibility of offing the Psycho for Hire assassin student, Jonathan Teatime. It's partly Even Evil Has Standards, but also practically speaking, Downey knows that Teatime is stealthy enough to sneak into his study undetected and crazy enough to kill him if the whim should take him.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Lawful Evil Emperor Ezar turns out to have deliberately launched an invasion of Escobar which was doomed to fail, so that he could kill his son Prince Serg and discredit the violent nationalists at his court. The sacrifice of numerous innocents during that invasion made it possible for the throne to pass to Ezar's grandson, Gregor, who is a noble and benevolent Guy Wearing the Kingly Mask. And Ezar himself not only confesses to it all on his deathbed, but makes it clear he's looking forward to dying. After all he'd gone through by that point, he was ready for a nice long rest.
- In Joseph Conrad's novel Under Western Eyes, one character (based on a real person) is a Psycho for Hire who has infiltrated the Bomb-Throwing Anarchists. He's a Tsarist agent whose employers basically give him carte blanche to kill his own allies and basically conduct false flag operations to make anarchists look bad. After he severely injures the protagonist, a Hero Antagonist Secret Police officer lets the anarchists know of the traitor in their midst, and there's a description of the psycho being cornered by anarchists on a train with an implied Gory Discretion Shot.
- In the ninth and final book of the Alex Rider series, the Bigger Bad Zeljan Kurst is well aware that Levi Kroll is angry over being repeatedly passed over for leading an operation, and arranges for him to be assassinated at the next meeting of Scorpia executives. This not only gets Levi out of the picture, but also allows him to use Levi's corpse for an Uriah Gambit that MI6 walks right into.
- The Evil Overlord List permits this, but only on the understanding that the Evil Overlord is then forbidden to ask why he is surrounded by idiots.
- In Worm, Coil decides to kill Skitter after she helped his plan to conquer Brockton Bay reach fruition, as he knows that she would oppose his continuing to hold Dinah Alcott prisoner.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Darth Sidious ordered Dooku to kill Ventress, because she has grown powerful enough, to make him worry about Dooku using her to turn against him.
- The third season of Transformers Prime initially centers on the Decepticons trying to revive the Predacons, a long-extinct type of Transformer. When their first successful clone, Predaking, turns out to not only be immensely strong but smarter, independent, and ambitious, the Decepticons realize an army of Predacons would inevitably and successfully revolt—probably lead by Predaking himself. They decide to secretly destroy all the fossils planned to be cloned and frame the Autobots, getting rid of them while also distracting Predaking from any ideas of taking over.