Lister: Why don't we scrape away this mortar here, slide one of these bricks out, then using a rope weaved from strands of this hessian, rip up a kind of a pulley system so that when a guard comes in, using it as a trip wire, gets laid out, and we put Rimmer in the guard's uniform, he leads us out, we steal some swords, and fight our way back to the 'bug. Kryten: Or we could use the teleporter. Lister: Or, in a pinch, we could use the teleporter.
As part of an ad campaign for the introduction of Netflix to Canada, one commercial features a boy watching a Bar Brawl scene in a Western on TV. At the end of the commercial, when two of the cowboys are duelling hand-to-hand on the second floor, the boy remarks, "They know that they have guns, right?"
Anime & Manga
In Dragon Ball Z, King Cold advises his son Frieza that revenge would be easier by just blowing up the Earth from space. Frieza however rejects this notion, stating that he wants to see Goku suffer. One episode later Frieza is killed.
Bulma also does this when she suggest simply finding out where Dr. Gero is and killing him before he creates the androids. She's promptly shot down. Depending on the version, Krillin also tells her in secret that it's best to give former villains Piccolo and Vegeta a mutual enemy.
Mazinger Z: In one episode The Dragon Baron Ashura captured Kouji and Mazinger-Z and gave him the "join-us-or-die" choice. After the Kouji's predictable answer, Ashura sentenced him to death, starting a bunch of giant power saws and drills to cut Mazinger-Z to pieces. The another Dragon Count Brocken was watching the scene through a monitor and he stated Ashura beat around the bush too much and complicated things innecessarily, and shooting Kabuto would be easier and quicker (to be fair, Ashura had not that option available in the moment).
In Rurouni Kenshin, Shishio and Kenshin are having their climactic duel. Both of them are severely injured and weakened, and Shishio's 15 minute-time limit for fighting has elapsed. Yumi (Shishio's lover) and Houji (Shishio's right-hand man) are watching, and Houji has a rifle. Yumi asks Houji why he just doesn't shoot Kenshin... Houji throws his gun away, on the grounds of his belief that Lord Shishio will win. He doesn't.
Code Geass offers a non-fatal version: when Lelouch learns that his best friend is the pilot of the Humongous Mecha that's thwarted him at every turn, his partner C.C. asks why he doesn't just use his Geass to make said friend join La Résistance. She guesses that it's either pride, sentimentality, or distaste for robbing another person of their free will; Lelouch responds that it's all three.
At the climax of the Non-Indicative First Episode (filming a movie) of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagato confronts Itsuki, who refuses to join forces with her. Nagato's shoulder-mounted cat suddenly starts talking, asking why she doesn't just use mind control on the guy already, since judging by what she's shown so far it ought to be well within her powers. But that's not in the script, so after a scramble to shut him up Nagato has her final battle with Mikuru.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu inverts the trope — ("No, you can't just shoot him!") — when Sōsuke is challenged to a no-holds-barred martial arts battle and, after being warned by his opponent not to pull any punches, calmly shoots the guy with a rubber bullet. Once it's explained to him that using a gun isn't allowed, he repeats the performance with his next opponent by gassing him with a fire extinguisher — and when it's further explained to him that he's supposed to be fighting solely hand-to-hand, he downs his third opponent via a Hey, Catch! with a grenade followed by several Groin Attacks, explaining afterwards that the pin was still in the grenade, and clearly never quite grasping the concept of a "fair fight" at all.
Practically said verbatim in Gantz. Some of the recruits have difficulty being willing to do what they're tasked with, and pay the price for it.
Sort of inverted in chapter 54 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, although the phrase is there almost verbatim. Ed and Ling are discussing how best to attack the Big Bad. Ling seems to think it's a better idea to take on the Mooks first, since their enemy clearly outmatches them. Edward would rather go to the point. They share this exchange:
Ling: Haven't you heard the saying, "if you want to shoot the leader, first aim for his horse"?! Edward: If you want to shoot the leader, then you should just SHOOT HIM!! Ling:(thinking) Is he stupid...?
Light: What are you doing, hurry up and write his name down!... Now's the time to kill him! Kill him right now!!
A variant appears in Bleach. During the beginning of the Hueco Mundo arc, the Big Bad sends one of his minions, Ulquiorra, to Earth to antagonize Ichigo and test his Power Level. After slapping Ichigo around a bit and leaving him in the dust, Ulquiorra reports back to the Big Bad that Ichigo is Not Worth Killing. Another of the Big Bad's minions, Grimmjow, gets annoyed and demands they just kill him anyway to be sure. Grimmjow eventually goes over his boss' head and hunts down Ichigo on his own, but the Big Bad reins him in before he can finish him off: Turns out the Big Bad had a secret plan in store for the hero.
In Digimon Adventure, after Vamdemon has captured Tailmon and starts rounding up the citizens of Odaiba (separating children from adults so that Tailmon can identify the eighth Child), Picodevimon asks why they don't just kill them all at once to be sure. Vamdemon states that it doesn't suit his aesthetic, although there's also the implication that he wanted to feed off of their fear (and their blood).
Megumi as the Combat Pragmatist, asks Miki at episode 3A why is she fighting an Angry Guard Dog when she could easily avoid it. At episode 5 B, after she and Miki beat someone to use him as a stepping stone to escape a well, she recognized that the guy had a rope and should’ve just let him rescue them.
A minor example happens in a mini-comic in Fruits Basket. Kyo learns that he'll be going to the same school as Yuki and throws a tantrum about it. Yuki asks why, if he's so determined to not go, did Kyo simply not bomb the entrance exam on purpose.
In the DC Universe, the third Blue Beetle has a race of evil aliens called the Reach as villains, led by the Negotiator. The first thing said by the Negotiator's Dragon is "Why don't we just kill him?" to which the Negotiator replies, "No. Not without study."
An early story of Rom Space Knight reverses this trope: After Rom is captured alive by some Dire Wraith scientists, they try to use the hero as a test subject. The Big Bad who commands them will have none of this and orders Rom killed as he is way too dangerous to keep alive. He still escapes in time, though.
Lampshaded in the following exchange from one of Tharg's Future Shocks from 2000 AD, written by Alan Moore, about a school that teaches its students how to be a proper villain.
Mr. Dreadspawn: Now you have the hero in your power at last. What do you do, Doctor Devastation? Doctor Devastation: Uhh... Shoot him? Mr. Dreadspawn: Give me the strength! How's he going to escape and defeat you if you shoot him?
In Lucky Luke, the Dalton brothers capture Luke more than once and, despite Jack and William suggesting just to kill him, Joe has always a "crueler" form of revenge that would let Luke finally escape from one way.
Pretty much the same thing happens in the Punisher MAX storyline "Widowmaker". As seen in the earlier storyline "Welcome Back, Frank", actually shooting the Punisher sometimes just makes him even more angry.
In the Mickey Mouse comic Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot, Mickey is frequently captured by a masked villain named The Phantom Blot. The Phantom Blot tries to dispose of him with various complicated death traps, which Mickey always manages to escape from. When the Phantom Blot is finally captured, Mickey asks him why the Phantom Blot didn't just kill him instead of using the death traps. The Phantom Blot than reveals he cannot stand to watch somebody die, and therefore used the death traps so he wouldn't be around when Mickey died.
Doctor Strange's foe Dormammu could obliterate Strange without breaking a sweat, but he inevitably stalls and prolongs the moment (or lets Strange manipulate him into fighting 'fair'). Dormammu's wiser sister Umar is usually the one to point out that this strategy isn't the best.
There were plans for the X-Men crossover Fatal Attractions to include a major battle between Wolverine and Magneto. Peter David jokingly commented, "Adamantium's metal, right? If I were Magneto, I'd just rip Wolverine's skeleton out and be done with him" - which the writers and editors promptly decided to have him do. David later said that offhand comment was the biggest influence he'd ever had on the X-Men.
In Last Son, Superman, asking Lex Luthor for help, puts himself in such a perfect position to be killed that he asks Luthor why he hasn't done it yet. Luthor responds that he doesn't want to make a martyr of him right now and would like to prove that Superman is a danger to humanity first.
Inverted in Dick Tracy when Flattop has abducted Tracy and intends to kill him. His henchmen suggests that he allow them to simply slash Tracy's throat because it would be quieter, while being just as effective. However, Flattop overrules them because he prefers to shoot his targets. That proves to be a big mistake when Flattop prepares to do that on a count of three. Tracy lunges toward the killer to seize his gun and a wild battle ensues, where Tracy is able to defeat all the crooks at once, even as his comrades in the force are storming the hideout.
Spoofed in the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series video "Marik's Council of Doom": when Bakura suggests bypassing the whole "challenging Yugi to a children's card game" shtick and just killing him, Marik replies that wouldn't work since 4Kids would simply censor it. The abridged series just does this a lot.
Joey: What do you people want from me? Bandit Keith: Your star chips, dweeb. I have a score to settle with Pegasus, so Zombie-Boy here is going to beat you in a card game! Joey: ... Why didn't you just take my star chips while I was unconscious? Bandit Keith: Shut the hell up!
A Protector's Pride has the Gotei 13 watching a beserk Ichigo in Bankai and Resureccion fighting Aizen and generally commenting on his being a threat. Isshin rolls his eyes and shuts them all up by saying "He won't be unless you're all idiots."
Renji jumps in too when Soi Fon clearly says Ichigo needs to be killed. Renji shouts at her saying that Ichigo should be seen as an ally and if she's gonna be a bitch about it because she's scared then mabye he should tell Ichigo to let Aizen go free. Komamura calls him on treason but Kyoraku and Ukitake say he (Renji) has a point.
Legacy Of The Rasengan:Naruto: After the Sound/Sand invasion is stopped, the Hyuuga council are discussing what happened during Naruto's match with Neji and trying to discuss ways to deal with him (since his match was basically Naruto demonstrating how to exploit almost every weakness the Byakugan has with his personally created jutsu). The Main branch members are all for killing him. One branch member however suggests marrying Naruto into the Hyuuga giving some very good reasons like how it would give the orphan a family, they could order him to never teach anyone his jutsu without their permission and he would have strong children who would bolster the Hyuuga ranks. The poor guy gets killed for it.
At one point in Eugenesis someone is amazed to see Optimus Prime alive, and asks if someone "finally" went to Vs'Qs and retrieved his body, which has been there for the last twenty years.
Danni California, the author of the Hunger Games fanfic "Thinking Tactically" explained that her story was a meta-version of this trope directed at Suzanne Collins. In "Thinking Tactically," a much less emotionally conflicted Katniss Everdeen begins the games, gets to the bow, escapes pursuit, then doubles back and starts firing arrows from the treeline into the general melee at the Cornucopia. A mere five minutes into the Hunger Games, she's whittled the competition down to herself, Petta, Rue, and Foxface.
Films — Animation
On Song of the South, Br'er Bear points out that Br'er Fox's plans to catch Br'er Rabbit never work and suggests that they just "knock his head clean off."
Peter Pan. Mr. Smee asks why Captain Hook insists on using a bomb to kill Peter Pan when just slitting his throat would be "more humane". Captain Hook responds that I Gave My Wordnot to lay a finger — or hook — on Peter. He never breaks a promise.
Yzma: I'll turn him into a flea, a harmless little flea. Then, I'll put that flea in a box, and then I'll put that box inside another box, and then I'll mail that box to myself. And when it arrives (Evil Laugh), I'LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER! ...Or, to save on postage, I could poison him with this!
Aladdin, posing as Prince Ali Ababwa, asks Genie how to win Jasmine's heart. Note that Aladdin had already met the princess as a street rat, and charmed her just fine. Genie's advice with this in mind?
Genie: Tell. Her. THE TRUTH!!
The Genie's rules defy this. Killing Jafar, reviving Aladdin's mother, or making Jasmine fall in love with Aladdin all would have ended the film early. Of course, as Jafar learns, this cuts both ways: He is unable to wish Aladdin dead or make Jasmine fall in love with him either.
Films — Live-Action
Austin Powers: Scott Evil expresses his impatience with the means his father, Dr. Evil, uses to attempt to dispose of Austin Powers:
Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism. (guard starts dipping mechanism) Dr. Evil: Close the tank! Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away! Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What? Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out! Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.
Used in the film Puma Man; the Big Bad uses Mind Control to make the hero jump to his death, instead of going with his Mooks more practical suggestion of just having one of them shoot him, to make it look like death from natural causes. In all fairness, he had no way of knowing that The Obi-Wan stopped the suicide and taught the hero how to enter a death-like trance in order to deceive the villains. Which would have all been great had it not been for the fact that Vadhino tells us at one point that thanks to the mask, Kobras has total control over the police. So... why did it have to look like an accident again?
In Ip Man, Colonel Sato crosses the Moral Event Horizon for shooting Master Liu after his three-on-one fight goes awry and afterward keeps asking to Just Shoot the title hero, but keeps getting prevented from doing so by the more honourable General Miura.
Justified in Six String Samurai, where the USSR have occupied a post-nuclear America for decades.
"Why don't he just shoot him?" "We haven't had bullets since '57!"
Inverted on both sides of the ledger: Riddler talks Two-Face out of just shooting Batman by claiming that taking out a cultural hero will leave him with a guilt trip, so it's better to make him die after mental and physical suffering since no-one mourns a pathetic shell of a man. Meanwhile, Batman talks Robin out of wanting to kill Two-Face by warning him that it won't make his anger go away. Two-Face ends up conveniently falling to his death later on anyway.
There's also the scene where Two-Face fails at immolating Batman, and decides to simply shoot him with a rather large gun. It would have worked if 1) Two-Face had not missed with the first shot and 2) Dick Grayson hadn't been there to rescue Batman from the resulting rubble.
Two-Face: No more riddles, no more curtains one and two! Just plain curtains!
In The Boys from Brazil, Josef Mengele insists that the Nazi conspirators should just kill nosy busybody investigator Ezra Lieberman. Mengele claims that no-one would pay attention to Lieberman's "paltry shreds of evidence", to which his superior replies, "If he dies suddenly, they would." Later, Mengele fails to take his own advice, giving the hero a Motive Rant instead of a bullet. He doesn't die — Ezra is a Boring Failure Hero — but he winds up losing his only advantage in the climax.
In The Count of Monte Cristo, ever-practical Jacopo asks this question of Edmond Dantes in response to hearing his plan to slowly destroy his enemies:
Jacopo: Why not just kill them? I'll do it! I'll run up to Paris — bam, bam, bam, bam — I'm back before week's end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?
Dantes declines, insisting that his enemies must suffer as he has suffered. In his defense, his plan does work, although it nearly fails at the end.
In all fairness, that potential failure is the result of the unexpected double whammy of him discovering 1 Mercedes still being in love with him and never breaking her promise. 2 Albert was actually his son, and that Mercedes only married Fernand because of how unacceptable it was to be an unmarried mother at that time. Two things that were completely unimaginable and entirely unforeseen after everything Dantes had gone through/learned at that point (even by the audience).
In Disney's Return to Oz Mombi asks why the Nome King did not turn Dorothy and company into ornaments right away, and instead let them play a near impossible guessing game to get their missing companions back... The Nome King replies that it's more fun. The same excuse is used in the book Ozma of Oz, but in that case the only reason everyone was found in the guessing game was because Billina eavesdropped.
In 28 Days Later, Private Jones implores Corporal Mitchell to shoot Sergeant Farrell rather than stab him with the bayonet. Mitchell's refusal to do so ultimately leads to Jim's escape, as it panicks Jones into triggering his gun.
Used in Last Action Hero. After Practice handcuffs Jack and Danny, he goes into a long speech about why he's working for Vivaldi. Meanwhile, Danny frees himself with a handcuff key he happened to have, pulls a gun on Practice, and rants at length about how dumb movie villains always explain everything when all they have to do to win is shoot. At which point Vivaldi shows up and pulls a gun on him midspeech. "You're not so smart yourself, kid."
Blue Thunder features a non-shooting variant that otherwise plays this trope perfectly. The good guys have recorded on special videotape a conversation that exposes the Government Conspiracy. The bad guys go crazy chasing down the tape in an attempt to retrieve it before it can be given to the press. At the very last second, one of the conspirators reminds the others that the tapes are contained in special cases that are able to erase them by remote command (a fact that was introduced earlier). In a subversion, they try to do exactly this, but the case got knocked off in a scuffle with a Mook and so the command fails.
In their defense, the heroes had changed the code number on the tapecase in question. The Simple Solution ("So erase them ALL.") wasn't Stated until near the end of the movie. Erasing all the tapes is obviously problematical and a very last resort.
In Enter the Dragon, Lee brings this very point up to the man recruiting him to infiltrate Han's Island only for a hasty explanation that Hand would never allow a gun to ever be brought to his home. Lee visibly rolls his eyes at this. This is because that even though Bruce Lee was a martial arts master without equal at the time, he had absolutely no illusions on the firearms vs. martial arts debate and, playing a (sort of) secret agent in this movie, very much wanted to use one. But the producers nixed this idea, much to Bruce's annoyance.
In The Karate Kid Part II, Miyagi has the Goons' leader in a position to kill him; he instead stops his hand less than an inch from his face and squeezes his nose while making a honk noise. Daniel asks him why he didn't kill him, and Miyagi says he didn't need to. Later in the movie, Daniel does the same thing to the Japanese Goons' leader.
The original Total Recall (1990) has this happening twice, first one in a non-lethal way. While Quaid given the "virtual trip to Mars", the owner of the clinic leaves the room to get new clients. During the hunt for Quaid, The Dragon truly attempts several times to kill him, but towards the end is stopped by the Big Bad, who justifies it by wanting to get his friend back. He then has Quaid and his Love Interest put for mindwashing and leaves the room, with the (apparently, until then) Genre Savvy Dragon. When they escape, the second in command asks again to kill Quaid, to which a reluctant boss agrees. He reacts with, "It's about goddamn time!"
In the kids' film 3 Ninjas, the title middle-schoolers successfully defeat The Dragon, only to have some random Mooks pull guns on them. The heroes clearly consider this to be cheating.
xXx: State of the Union has Darius Stone knock out instead of kill Charlie, the woman who framed him for murder. His superior, Gibbons, says that he should have killed her. Later on, Stone is held at gunpoint by Charlie, only for Gibbons to shoot her. He reiterates, "I told you to kill that bitch."
In Van Helsing, we have the vampire bride Aleera who constantly taunts and plays around with Anna but never gets around to actually killing her. When she finally has her cornered, Anna is thrown a stake by Carl and instantly stakes Aleera on the spot. Telling her (as a Shout-Out to the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) "If you're going to kill someone, kill them! Don't stand there talking about it!"
In the Coen brothers remake of The Lady Killers, the crew's leader tries to think up an elaborate solution to a casino employee who stands in the way of their heist. After being shut down several times, the crew's young idiot chimes in with "why don't we just bribe the guy?"
In a 1997 low-budget B-Action flick called Mean Guns a character played by Ice-T is overseeing a deathmatch between a bunch of hired killers for a Briefcase Full of Money. One of the killers surprises Ice with a knife and goes on and on about how he's going to kill Ice T's character and how much he hates him, all the while Ice T keeps telling him to throw the knife. As the guy looks away for a second, Ice T draws his own knife, throws it and kills the guy saying, "See? You throw the fucking knife. Don't stand there and hold it, throw the motherfucker!"
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, several of Voldemort's Death Eaters suggest to Voldemort that they should just kill Harry Potter on the spot instead of arming him with a wand and killing him in a mock duel. He doesn't listen because his ego demands proof that he can win against a teenager while his minions don't care. Voldemort wises up in the next book, attempting the Killing Curse the moment he comes face-to-face with Harry. Luckily Dumbledore shows up just in time to save the day.
Likewise early in the book, Pettigrew suggests simply kidnapping someone who stood against Voldemort to revive him. Voldemort admits that they use near anyone that way and that it would be far easier but insists on using Harry anyway because he wants to come back stronger than he was before.
More mundanely, the Half-Blood Prince's textbook in the sixth book has "Just shove a bezoar down their throats" scrawled over an entire section about poison antidotes. Slughorn mentions that some poisons won't be countered this way, but still, the knowledge (as well as the bezoar itself) does prove useful later.
In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom denounces Huck's plan to liberate Jim from captivity by unlocking the shed's door and escaping by night as too simple and lacking flair, substituting it with an incredibly dangerous and over-the-top one instead.
Averted in the Fu Manchu novels, where no-one ever questions Fu Manchu's use of ridiculously exotic murder plots, probably because, except when targeting the heroes, they usually work.
"Collot d'Herbois, incredulous, half-contemptuous, did not altogether approve of these schemes, which seemed to him wild and uncanny; he liked the direct simplicity of a summary trial, of the guillotine, or of his own well stage-managed 'Noyades'. He did not feel that any ridicule or dishonour would necessarily paralyse a man in his efforts at intrigue, and would have liked to set Chauvelin's authority aside, to behead the woman upstairs and then to take his chance of capturing the man later on."
In the tie-in Buffy novel What I Did on My Summer Vacation, the Big Bad suggests just killing the Slayer's friends. His advisor disagrees, saying that doing so is just suicide. You don't eat the Slayer's loved ones.
In Eragon, the titular character is told by Brom that the reason why magic users don't do this is because the recipient of the attack always has just enough time to get in a similar attack before they croak; thus a kind of unwritten rule between magical duelists is that they have to bend the enemy's mind to their will before the finishing blow.
In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Eyl finally has Gaunt and Mabbon at his mercy and starts gloating. Mabbon tells Eyl that he should have just fired. By failing to do so, Eyl gets knocked away by Gaunt, then has his head ventilated by Larkin.
This happens again in the climax of Dead Beat, when the Big Bad's advisor recommends he kill Harry. The Big Bad refuses, because Harry's Death Curse would ruin the spell he's currently trying to control. As he learns to his misfortune scant minutes later, being knocked out from behind by a freed Harry has a just as bad an effect.
In the first John Carter of Mars novel, Dejah Thoris explains that, while she really loves John Carter, she was forced to promise herself to an enemy prince. Her rules of honor forbid her to be with anyone else while her betrothed is still alive. John responds by drawing his sword and offering to take care of it. Unfortunately, she also can't be with a man who killed her fiancé.
In P. G. Wodehouse's Mike and Psmith, when the title characters are preparing to face some dormitory invaders, Psmith launches into a dissertation on the tactics of Napoleon—which Mike interrupts by suggesting they just trip them up with string.
Psmith: Yes, Napoleon would have done that, too.
In Pact, the way that the metaphysics of the setting work encourage subtlety, manipulation, and elaborate traps to defer responsibility—an approach which is explicitly compared to playing the Bond villain. Those that choose not to care about the consequences of being straightforward, like Fell the illusionist/enchanter, are all the more dangerous because of this—it often doesn't matter if your opponent will take severe karmic backlash for their vulgar attack if said vulgar attack managed to kill you.
Fell: Don't underestimate the value of a bullet.
In Smallville, when Clark is talking to Oliver about dealing with Doomsday and saying he is going to the Fortress to find a way of sending it away, Oliver does this.
Oliver: I can tell you how to conquer the beast. Kick his ass, Clark.
On The X-Files, when the Syndicate discusses killing Mulder to keep him from thwarting their plans. Several of the members argue against this, pointing out that such an action would just make Mulder a martyr and draw unnecessary attention to Mulder's investigations into the X-Files. By leaving him alive and not doing anything, they just make Mulder look like a paranoid Cloudcuckoolander who no one outside of UFO circles will take seriously.
Warren Mears, after once again having his plans thwarted, finally tries this by bringing a gun and shooting Buffy. It backfires when Buffy survives, and his parting shots cause arguably the show's most shocking case of Anyone Can Die, and lead directly and promptly to his very painful death by flaying.
Vampire: (at Willy's bar, watching a news report about Buffy surviving being shot, to Warren) "You know, kid, I was originally going to eat you because you interrupted my fishing show. But now? I think I'm going to let you live just so I can watch the slayer rip out your kidneys with her bare hands."
In an earlier episode, Buffy herself subverts this trope by "just shooting" a demon that "no weapon forged can kill" — with a bazooka.
Buffy tries to use her temporary mind-reading powers to get an answer out of Angel without him noticing, only to realize that it doesn't work on vampires:
Angel: You don't have to play games with me Buffy. Ever. Buffy: Well, you're not exactly Joe-here's-what-I'm-thinking. Angel: So ask me. Buffy: Oh, but that would have made sense...
Michael could have dealt with any number of cases by shooting the villain of the week, a fact that Fiona never hesitates to point out. Justified, here: depending on the circumstances, Michael will make the point that either they don't want a trail of bodies leading back to them or that if they do things his way they can take a whole gang down. In Michael's words (from the first episode):
Michael: I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid; better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
Played straight in Dark Angel when Lydecker is pointing a gun at a sleeping Max and decides to talk instead of shoot, giving her the opportunity to jump up and roundhouse kick him in the face. However, this is justified by a) Max being an expensive asset; and b) Lydecker regarding the X-5s as his children, and not being fond of the idea of them getting hurt.
Justified in the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Ood" when business owner Mr. Halpert declined to shoot the Doctor and Donna, saying that there will likely be a full investigation and their bodies will likely be found. If he did shoot them, it would create many problems for him legally in the future; but by leaving them to the Ood, they'll die just like all the other people around and there's no trouble beyond what's already happened.
In the first-season episode "The Serpent's Lair", the team is standing at the top of a long shaft, looking down at their target, the ship's sheild generator. Bra'tac details a plan for them to fight their way through a series of corridors to reach the bottom of the shaft, at which point, they'll disable the generator. O'Neill doesn't acutally say anything, he just removes a couple of grenades from his equipment, pulls the pins, and drops them down the shaft.
In the episode "Wormhole X-Treme!", O'Neill is acting as the military advisor to Martin's TV show, and when the question is brought up of "How can they defeat the giant alien without being weightless?", O'Neill says "Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?", and is commended for his innovative thinking. Martin was not impressed.
In Stargate Atlantis, this is frequently Ronon's job. For example, in one episode McKay's complex plan to stop the Asuran Replicators falls through and he starts panicking, Ronon's response is that they have guns that can kill Replicators... why not just shoot them all?
Todd: I was going to write a program that would trigger a slow overload in the primary capacitor, but I don't think we have time for that now. Ronon: I was just gonna blow it up. Todd:Naturally.
Suspecting that Gowron, supreme leader of the Klingon Empire to be a Changeling infiltrator, General Martok allowed Sisko & co. to expose him — by killing Gowron. Worf attacked Gowron and the two fought; at this point Martok invoked this trope. Martok's suggestion was quite uncharacteristic (and dishonorable) for a Klingon warrior, tipping Odo to the fact that he, not Gowron, was the real changeling.
In another episode, the Defiant is captured in battle by the Dominion. Sisko and crew are kept alive, though, because the Dominion ship has a different mission to perform elsewhere. The Jem'Hadar contingent left in control of the ship is led by the arrogant first of a new batch of clones with a seasoned veteran of an older generation as his second-in-command. The veteran brings this trope up repeatedly to his superior, saying that the value of the crew helping with repairs is surely outweighed by the fact that they're no doubt scheming of a way to take back control of the ship (because he's smart to know that's exactly what he would do in their place), but he's ignored. At the end of the episode Sisko lampshades this, telling the dying veteran "Your leader should have listened to you." The Jem'Hadar is resigned — his purpose, after all, was to serve the Founders' will and they put the new young leader in charge.
In the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Unshockable", when discussing how a victim was poisoned with Sarin when already knocked out, Sara asks:
Invoked in the past tense on Law & Order, when a character asks an investigator why, if the convicted killer's pleas that he'd not intended to commit murder were untrue, he didn't shoot the woman he'd struck with a tire iron. "The noise" is the reply.
On Pushing Daisies, the murderers will never use mundane methods to either kill their victims, or in their attempts to kill the heroes when they have the heroes captured (which they almost always do). This trope is eventually invoked in the episode "Smell of Success":
Emerson Cod: Death by scratch and sniff. What the hell happened to people shooting each other with guns?
In his review of the first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Linkara noted a plot-point that if Rita Repulsa knows the identities of the Rangers, why didn't she just blow up their houses?
Subverted in Criminal Minds. Being a show about profiling, if the killer chose a bizarre method of execution, there's probably a reason.
Subverted in the Horrible Histories about World War II German prisoner-of-war camps, and Allied prisoners continually escaping from them (forcing German troops to be tied up guarding prisoners instead of fighting the war):
Commandant Klinsman: You give me one good reason why I shouldn't just shoot you right here on the spot. Squadron Leader Higgins: Because it's against the Geneva Convention to shoot officers. Klinsman: Yes, forgot about that.
Displayed in Major Crimes: Captain Sharon Raydor is attempting to get psychiatrist Dr. Joe to break confidentiality on his sessions with her foster son, first as the police officer in charge of his safety note He's a material witness in a serial killer's murder trial., then as his legal guardian. Dr. Joe politely shoots her down on both counts, lays out the legal requirements for breaking confidentiality, and suggests an alternative: Just talk to her foster son.
Myths & Religion
In the binding of Fenrir of Norse Mythology, Loki asks the other Gods why they don't just kill him while he's bound, especially since it's foretold Fenrir kills Odin come Ragnorok. The other Gods don't kill him because Fenrir was bound in a holy place, which would have become tainted with both the violence and the blood.
Inverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater during the fight with Volgin. After the battle stops going his way, he looks up at Ocelot and orders him to shoot Snake. Ocelot replies with, "I'm afraid I can't do that." Then tells him, "Fight like a man, Volgin."
In Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle, Lampshaded when Keen is surprised that the Gnostic Elders weren't killed instead of just kidnapped. The council page immediately handwaves this by telling him that the elders are immortal.
Inverted in Baldur's Gate 2. After having captured you and completed his evil plans he had in store for you, Big Bad Irenicus orders his sister, Psycho for Hire Bodhi, to have you "disposed of" immediately. Bodhi instead exhibits the Bond Villain Stupidity her role is usually set up to lampshade and decides it would be much funnier to have you thrown to the resident Malevolent Architecture in a game of cat and mouse — behind Irenicus's back. The protagonist is even allowed to point out that Irenicus won't be happy if he finds out. Of course, Irenicus could have avoided the mess if he just killed the party himself.
Double Switch: At the end of the game, Lyle has Eddie at his mercy, and he asks everyone what should be done with the guy. Brutus says "Just nail him!" However, Lyle ends up activating a trap that sends Eddie flying around a couple of times, and then through a Trap Door, supposedly sending him back to the basement.
Portal 2: In the end, GLaDOS states that she's been ignoring the simple solution of how to get rid of Chell: just let her go. Killing Chell is very difficult and causes GLaDOS no end of problems... so why not just give Chell what she wants and let her go? It's not like a gesture of gratitude or anything.
In a side conversation in Persona 2 Innocent Sin, the main characters discuss a few potential "simple solutions" to the current mess and decide they probably won't work; tracking down Joker by summoning him again won't work because he could simply choose not to appear, and trying to take advantage of the fact that rumors are coming true by starting a rumor that Joker is easy to defeat won't work because people wouldn't spread a rumor like that.
In the seventh Touhou, if you play as Marisa, she will wonder about how to get the gate to the Netherworld to open up. The Prismriver Sisters then point out that they only need to fly over it.
Oddly enough, Arcueid in Tsukihime asks Nero this — technically, she points out he's been messing around too much by making Shiki suffer, which just triggered his Nanaya side — after Nero decides he's going to have fun and slowly eat Shiki instead of killing him outright. After Shiki starts kicking his ass, he realizes maaaybe it would have been a better idea not to play with his food.
In Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel scenario, True Assassin points out to his master that the easy and pragmatic thing would probably be to have him kill Shirou and Rin, who're running around like headless chickens desperately trying to find a way to defeat the Shadow that's eating half the town. Said master, who is an utter sadist, replies that it's more fun to do nothing, watch them fail, and have the Shadow kill them. This comes back to bite Zouken in the ass when the Shadow, which is Sakura, kills him and True Assassin. To be fair Zouken was lying about his motive: Sakura was slowly losing it, but Zouken had already learned that he simply couldn't break her on his own. Thus he leaves the two people who can do that alive and hope they screw up. They do!
The second Strong Bad Email is someone asking Strong Bad that if he hates "Homsar" so much, why doesn't he just kill him? Strong Bad responds that he is utterly right and dumps a "Heavy Lourde" at a newly invented character called Homsar (who did not exist up to this point and had little to no relation to Strong Bad's actual nemesis "Homestar"). Homsar would later prove to be Not Quite Dead and became an ongoing Easter Egg and Ensemble Dark Horse of the series.
Sarge: [paraphrased] I could simulate a third radio using a blowtorch and all this sand to make a refractory lens, thus allowing us to triangulate [Tex's] position! Grif: Or we could just listen to the coordinates that she's sending us.
One of the earliest Dominic Deegan had Dominic hire Stunt and Bumper to acquire a magic potion from a magic user to cure him of a curse which caused fish to fall on him when he smoked. Stunt asks why he doesn't just quit smoking. Dominic snips back by asking why the thieves keep stealing if they don't like jail time.
Used in Nodwick when an evil henchman ends up asking his evil employers why they don't kill the adventurers they have so handily defeated. His only answer is to get a sword shoved in his face and a sharp admonishment that henchmen do not get to give orders.
Demon gets Claudita temporarily paralyzed by some sort of invisible spore thingies. He insists on lecturing her about how evil their agenda is and how she's got no chance of winning or something like that.
The example in question references Sleeping Beauty, which is actually an aversion — Maleficent's original intent was to have the princess prick her finger on a spindle and die on her Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday. The Curse Escape Clause that made Happily Ever After possible was added by the youngest of the good fairies, who wasn't strong enough to negate the curse entirely, but was strong enough to provide an out.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja appears to be pulling this when Frans Rayner has Mongo go to great lengths to capture Dr. McNinja alive instead of just killing him in combat. Dr. McNinja actually calls him out on this. It then justifies it when Rayner reveals that Mongo has learned the value of human life and refuses to kill, forcing Rayner to go with the capture plan instead.
Inverted in Sluggy Freelance, in which the evil villain is talked into not just shooting the hero and instead using an overly complex and silly Death Trap as an interrogation method.
Discussed in the "Ask Vector Prime a Question" section of the Insecticomics site; Vector Prime, a Physical God, could have destroyed Megatron and save all of reality rather easily in Transformers Cybertron... But he states that if he did, the villain's fangirls would kill him. Later, he claims that Executive Meddling prevented him from just saving the world in a single episode, lamenting the fact that he could have spent the rest of the series on a beach getting a foot massage from a supermodel.
In Cucumber Quest, Cordelia asks the Nightmare Knight why he doesn't just "defeat the hero yourself? Right now?" She narrowly escapes being punished for her insubordination.
In the Fan FicDark Heart High, a shojo-style parody of evil overlords that deliberately seeks out tropes to adopt and cherish, a class for aspiring supervillains is asked what they'd do when they had their nemesis at their mercy. After listening to the litany of death traps and tortures of her classmates' answers, protagonist Yuki fumbles for a moment, then shrugs and says, "I'd just shoot him." Her teacher is quite impressed.
Cracked has a list of The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots. After going through each plot the alternative they suggest is a much simpler plan that always ends with shooting their target in the face, with the exception of number 4 (the explosive toy car) could actually be a sneaky way to do it with modern technology.
In Darwin's Soldiers: Scrodinger's Prisoners, Dr. Shelton and a soldier have to get through a room with an angry doctor. The soldier suggests this as an option Turns out that's pretty much what they do.
This page has Blofeld defending himself for doing just that.
Shark Pool is a trailer for a fictional movie about a shark in a swimming pool. A guy offers the suggestion of "just don't go in the pool". Unfortunately, he's the Only Sane Man and the rest of the guests are Too Dumb to Live.
In one Global Guardians story, the heroes chase the villain into an underground vault, and the badguy hides behind a truly massive door. While Achilles and Guardsman argue about how best to release the magnetic lock, Stone and Ultra-Man simply rip the entire door assembly out of the surrounding rock.
A comic-based episode had Joker poring over a variety of odd tortures to inflict on Batman, flies into a rage after Harley Quinn matter-of-factly offers to just shoot him. Irony bites Harley in the ass after her own dramatic death trap nearly succeeds until Mr. J becomes angry at her for upstaging him and busts in to stop her. Even more ironically, the Joker then goes to shoot the restrained Batman anyway after he gets Harley out of the picture, as it's just too rare an opportunity to turn down. By this point, of course, Batman has freed himself. The Joker is probably the canonical example of a Big Bad who will accept nothing less than a deathtrap ending for the hero, no matter how many times it's been tried and failed. In his case, however, it is arguably Justified, since the Joker is explicitly insane. His actions and choices should not necessarily be expected to be rational.
To add insult to injury Batman outright states that Harley's trap would have been successful, and would have managed to finish him off where Joker never could. The plan, of course, being one Joker rejected.
In the episode "The Trial", Batman's rogues gallery put him through a Joker Jury scenario. Two-Face makes the off-hand comment that he suggested "a quick slug between the eyes" instead of going through all the theatrics, but lost the coin toss.
Several years later, it seems the Joker has learnt his lesson. After the Injustice Gang captures Batman, Luthor wants to keep Batman imprisoned up so that he can interrogate him and learn the Justice League's weaknesses. Joker, who knows from experience that keeping Batman alive isn't going to end well, tells Luthor to Just Shoot Him. Luthor doesn't listen, and Bats go on to take the Injustice League apart from the inside. Ironically, there is never a suggestion made to remove Batman's mask.
Ex-actor-turned-shapeshifter Clayface makes the suggestion to Gorilla Grodd in another episode after capturing the heroes, specifically mentioning he's acted in enough movies to catch on that the heroes always think of a way out, and it would be better to just kill the subdued heroes immediately instead of trying to bring about a dramatic climax. Gorilla Grodd comments that he never liked those movies and convinces him to go along with the dramatic approach by offering him an important center-stage role in the executions. Of course, it turns out "Clayface" is really the shapeshifting hero J'onn J'onzz masquerading as the villain.
When The Joker obtains godlike power in the "Emperor Joker" episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Harley Quinn suggests that, now that he's got Batman where he wants him, he should take his mask off and find out who he is. Note that he actually kills Batman. Repeatedly.
Joker: And reduce my primal enemy to a mere man? Harley, my dear, I'm so disappointed in you. Where's the fun in that?
The Zeta Project, which is also part of the DCAU, actually went out of its way to explain why they didn't shoot Zeta. Apparently the writers were aware this trope was being overused, so the first episode of the series proper has Bennett explaining two things: firstly, he's a very expensive robot assassin they cannot afford to rebuild, and secondly, he's an assassin and too much violence could trigger violence in retaliation. The possibility of bystanders being hit by stray bullets is addressed later on, as is the general concept of civilian death and crossfire damage. And then they go ahead and build another assassin robot to capture or destroy Zeta, who immediately starts causing tons of destruction in public areas. So much for that explanation.
The other assassin wasn't sent after Zeta. It was sent after an Asshole Victim Zeta decided to save. The damages the other robot suffered caused some sorted of malfunction that made it believe the assignment was to destroy Zeta.
A heroic example in Beast Wars: After Optimus Primal took the Spark of Optimus Prime into his body to thwart Megatron's assassination attempt, Megatron came into the Ark with Inferno to finish the job. Despite Prime's spark giving Primal the size, as well as the physical and fire power of a large Autobot, he hesitates to attack since he might alter history. Regardless, after Megatron and Optimus argue a bit, Rattrap gets fed up and asks:
Rattrap: Oh for bootin' up cold!! Will ya just shoot 'im?
People have been saying this about Megatron and Starscream for years due to Screamer's constant attempts to take leadership of the Decepticons in just about every continuity. In Transformers Animated, it finally happens, only for Starscream to become immortal from a shard of the Allspark embedded in his head. Megatron proceeds to kill him about five more times in a single episode, to no avail.
Señor Senior Jr. does this as a Running Gag. However, his boss (actually his father, Señor Senior, Sr.) never becomes angry, only exasperated that his son "doesn't get it".
Señor Senior, Sr. is, of course, the ultimate Card-Carrying Villain, who engages in villainous activity (and tropes) not for any sort of gain (he's already so ridiculously wealthy as to make that pointless) but out of boredom. When it was pointed out that his mansion resembled a supervillain's lair, Señor Senior, Sr. decided it would be fun to become one. He doesn't care at all about whether his schemes are successful, just about whether they're carried out in the "proper" villainous manner.
Shego, when she's in Deadpan Snarker mode, has her moments, too. For example, in The MovieA Sitch in Time, when Drakken reveals his plot to go back in time and "crush Kim's spirit," preventing her from growing up to become a spy hero, Shego points out a much more permanent solution would be to just kill her past self.
Shego has often espoused her frustration with Drakken's Genre Blindness since the first season: After being ordered to tie Kim and Ron to lightning rods meant to eventually fry them by way of an oncoming electrical storm, Shego remarks: "I prefer the 'direct approach', but you know Drakken...."
In several episodes of Sonic Sat AM (as well as in some early issues of the Archie Sonic comic), Robotnik has Sonic at his mercy, and Sniveley asks why Robotnik doesn't just roboticize him. Snively also has a habit of questioning Robotnik's more elaborate plots.
The Villain Episode of The Fairly OddParents has Crocker becoming Norm's master. Finding they both hate Timmy, Norm grants Crocker's wishes with no catch... at first. However, throughout the show Crocker insists on using elaborate Wile E. Coyote like traps rather than easily teleporting him to Mars, as Norm keeps suggesting. It annoys Norm to no end. And it's used against him at the end after Norm agrees on a temporary truce with Timmy.
Bill Cosby (robot):(drawing a gun) Well, that does it! Kyle: Hey, what are you doing? Bill Cosby (robot): I have no other choice. For the sake of humanity I have to kill him. [Cartman] Kyle: Oh, OK. Stan: That's fine. (pauses) No, wait! Bill Cosby (robot): What? Stan: Can I do it? Bill Cosby (robot): Oh well, I suppose. (hands gun over to Stan) Stan: Sweet! Kiss your ass goodbye, Fatboy! Bill Cosby (robot): Wait, perhaps there is another way. If you take me to where Eric Cartman lives, I could try reasoning with his human mother. Stan: Well, yeah. Or we could just kill him. Kyle: Yeah, that would be faster. Stan: He's right there. Bill Cosby (robot): I'm afraid I can't. I think I'm actually starting to feel what you "humans" call compassion. It's an amazing feeling. Stan & Kyle: Oh.
Lampshaded in Earthworm Jim, when he sneaks up behind an Elite Mook with a towed howitzer, aims it, then sighs he can't do it, since it's too easy. He then takes out the mook with a ridicilous ambush, like he did with the others. It should be noted that when it comes to shooting wildly with his raygun, Jim has little hesitation.
One episode of The Powerpuff Girls gives us a heroic example: The girls run up against the Ministry of Pain, a team of arch-criminals some thirty years past their shelf life. Despite Bubbles and Buttercup pointing out that they could probably arrest them within all of two seconds, Blossom insists upon being "polite to their elders" and instead brings the Ministry's old heroic nemesis out of retirement to fight them. The end result: Both superhero and villains end up getting hurt trying to fight each other and get hospitalized, with everyone (even the narrator) remarking Blossom is stupid for causing all this.
In episode "The Lepidopterists", Jonah Venture Jr. is dumbfounded when he finds out that he must consult with both the OSI and the handbook of the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the rules of "arching" instead of just killing the Monarch after being attacked. He's told that as insane and stupid as the whole process is, it's better to play along than actually pissing off the Guild.
When 21 captures Hank and Dean to try and get them to confess killing 24, Rusty and Sergeant Hatred follow their trace back to the villain community of Malice where Doctor Ms. The Monarch suggests to Rusty "Didn't you try calling them?"
As silly as "Arching" is, it is the only thing stopping the Guild full of powerful, mentally unstable and highly dangerous people from doing real crimes rather than acts of carttonish super villiany.
Abomination: It's a mistake to keep them alive, Zemo!
Ed Eddn Eddy: The Eds want to watch a monster movie at Ed's place, but Sarah keeps kicking them out.
Edd: We could just go to our house, Eddy... Eddy: What? And ruin the plot?
In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Picture This", Ferb had left his skateboard in Britain, and Phineas announces a plan to teleport it back home with "a highly intricate and sophisticated machine". Lawrence, their dad, suggests that they could just build a new skateboard instead. However, the boys suffer Complexity Addiction and ignore the easier option.
Atomic Betty: Maximus IQ once disguised a robot to pose as a long lost galactic guardian and lure Betty to a trap. Since the robot had an explosive device, Minimus suggested they could simply detonate it and finish off Betty but Maximus wanted to make sure Betty knew he's the reason of her demise. Then, as he had her dangling over a pool with deadly fish, Minimus suggested they'd just cut the rope but Maximus wanted to taunt her.
Legion of Super Heroes: Brainiac 5 stops Bouncing Boy from using his communicator to alert Superman, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl about Dr. Londo's illicit experiments with the local wildlife (and possibly with other beings as well), Brainiac points out that Dr. Londo would be monitoring communicator traffic and tried to think hard enough for Saturn Girl to contact them telepathically. Bouncing Boy states that he could call out to them seeing that they were within range to hear him, it worked. Just as well too as Saturn Girl was unconscious at the time.
Older Than Feudalism: There is an old parable about ancient Greek philosophers discussing how many teeth are in a horse's mouth. One naive young man suggests finding an actual horse and counting the teeth, much to the outrage of his peers. The consensus of the philosophers of the time was quite literally that if you had to go out and perform an experiment in order to prove your theory, then your theory was a bad one. (Thus, In History of Animals, Aristotle claimed that human males have more teeth than females despite having been married twice!) This also explains why he thought insects only had four legs.
Harrison Ford is credited with using a variant of "Why don't I just shoot him?" on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as he suffered from food poisoning and wasn't up for filming a planned long-winded fight sequence. The rest is history.
There's an urban legend that goes as follows: When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 degrees Celsius. The Russians used a pencil. However, this isn't at all true, as both Russia and the US knew before hand that pens wouldn't work in space and instead used pencils. When pencils proved to be hazardous in space due to graphite dust and debris, the US switched to felt pens while Russia switched to grease pencils on plastic tablets. Eventually a private entrepreneur independently developed the space pen with $1 million of his own funds, and sold them to NASA and Russia for $3 each.
The Russians have a habit of using simple but reliable solutions over better but more expensive and temperamental ones — partly on the ground that quantity has a quality of its own and partly because they couldn't afford or engineer anything better. A good example of this is the MiG-25 "Foxbat", which was designed specifically to catch the U-2. It could do one thing, and one thing only — carry four air-to-air missiles to 80,000 feet at the second-fastest speed ever achieved by a production aircraft. This was all it was designed to do, and it did it pretty well. It could do nothing else — it could stay in the air for approximately half-an-hour and after flying at top speed, the engines were ruined and had to be replaced. Ironically, this led to the design of the F-15 and F-16, because the Americans thought the Foxbat was a general-purpose air superiority fighter rather than a fire-and-forget interceptor. They needed something better than what they thought the Foxbat could do, but the Foxbat was never designed or intended to dogfight with Western fighters. Yet it did everything its designers wanted it to do, at a fraction of the cost of a comparable American aircraft.
actually the Foxbat was designed to intercept the (cancelled) XB-70 Valkyrie, and the SR-71 Blackbird, not the U-2.
A crew transporting a house had difficulties with an overpass that their payload was 3 and a half inches too tall to fit under. They were standing there, scratching their heads, debating how to findan alternate route, when a kid on a bicycle who was doing his morning newspaper route asked what was up, he said, "Why not just let some air out of the tires and then re-inflate them after you've passed under the bridge?" A few minutes later, the crew were on their way again.