->''"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player\\
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,\\
And then is heard no more; it is a tale\\
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,\\
Signifying nothing."''
-->-- '''Macbeth''', ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', Act V, Scene 5, '''Creator/WilliamShakespeare'''

%%Moderator notice: Do not remove the story part of the description.

Once upon a time, a man decided to climb a mountain. He took a nasty fall, badly bruising himself, and landed in the woods next to a shaggy-haired dog. Despite his injuries, he limped back to his house, where he left the dog, then to the nearest hospital, where he got some x-rays. When he got home, the dog looked hungry, so he made a steak just for the dog, and turned on the television. He was just about to call the pound when he heard that a wealthy couple, on vacation in the vicinity, had ''lost'' a very shaggy dog, and were offering a [[UndisclosedFunds very large sum]] for his return. He bought a plane ticket, but fell short on funds. Being a thrifty man, never wanting to live in debt, he sold a chair from his house to pay for the ticket. When he got on the plane, he found that he couldn't take the dog without preparations; the airline, however, was willing to transfer his ticket for a nominal fee. He was forced to pay this fee, and the veterinarian's bills, with a credit card, which irked him even though he knew the reward would offset it. Then he flew to the city in question, but since he was only twenty-four (too young to rent a car), had to walk ten miles through the woods, going in the general direction of the manor. When he arrived, he found he had missed the front gate entirely. He walked directly up to the door with the dog and rang the bell... when he and the dog were shot dead by a guard.

Did you feel like that story was pointless? It was. Sometimes an author will go one step beyond a ShaggyDogStory, and Shoot the Shaggy Dog. They won't just KillEmAll; they'll make the characters' accomplishments a moot point [[SenselessSacrifice and their deaths completely senseless]]. They won't just have the protagonist die an agonizing death; they'll [[GroundhogDayLoop trap him in a grim cycle of reincarnation]], and make him [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption a failure in every incarnation]]. Sometimes they won't ''even'' Kill Em All; the protagonists won't even get to bring the {{Villain}}s down with them. All in all, [[StatusQuoIsGod the only thing that's changed in the last 400 pages is that a few ineffectual people have died]]... some of whom were the protagonists.

Occasionally part of AnAesop, to show ''[[CrapsackWorld just how crappy]]'' the world becomes when you violate the lesson; frequently used to try and show a '[[DarkerAndEdgier gritty]]', [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism cynical]] world. Sometimes, it's an attempt at tragedy that makes the mistake of nullifying itself by ''[[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy making it impossible to care]]''. Depending on the particulars, it can overlap with DiabolusExMachina, and is a frequent cause of AngstAversion. In short, this is a story where at its conclusion you have to ask ''"What the hell was the point?"''

'''NOTE:''' An ending in which [[TheHeroDies the heroes die]] or are [[BolivianArmyEnding implied to die]] does not, on its own, a Shoot The Shaggy Dog make. This trope should refer to stories where the protagonists are ineffectual, accomplish nothing, fail to bring villains to justice, ''and'' they die.

The ultimate DownerEnding. See also CrapsackWorld. Compare ResetButtonEnding, which may lead to or be the cause of one of these. If the writer's a cynical bastard it might be a BlackComedy, and writers who are fond of using this type of ending are very likely to have a [[StrawNihilist nihilistic]] worldview. Tends to result in a form of DarknessInducedAudienceApathy if the writer isn't really good at it. Not to be confused with ShootTheDog, which is a [[WhatTheHellHero regrettable act]] that may or may not involve an [[InfantImmortality actual dog]]. Often a SequelHook. Very frequently a TearJerker.

On a brigher side, a villain trying to invoke this trope with a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech fails virtually always.

[[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant Has nothing to do]] with [[JustForPun Shooting Shaggy's]] [[ScoobyDoo Dog]] (or for that matter, his [[TheScrappy other dog]]). [[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant Also has nothing to do]] with [[JustForPun the filming process]] of the Disney film ''Film/TheShaggyDog'', or its {{Remake}}. See also RocksFallEveryoneDies for a roleplaying equivalent.

'''Spoilers''' ahead, of course.

%%If you have time, please take time to put examples in alphabetical order. This page Administrivia/HowToAlphabetizeThings should help you with that.
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Advertising}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/AnimeAndManga
* ShootTheShaggyDog/ComicBooks
* ShootTheShaggyDog/FanFiction
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Film}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Literature}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/LiveActionTV
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Music}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/NewspaperComics
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Poetry}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/StandUpComedy
* ShootTheShaggyDog/TabletopGames
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Theatre}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/VideoGames
* ShootTheShaggyDog/{{Webcomics}}
* ShootTheShaggyDog/WebOriginal
* ShootTheShaggyDog/WesternAnimation
* ShootTheShaggyDog/RealLife
[[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Just to rub salt in the wound]], the rich homeowners take a look at the dead dog and decide [[ShaggyDogStory it can't be their dog]], because "he wasn't ''that'' shaggy."