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, rig 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!There is a problem. A dramatic, elaborate, and dangerous (and sometimes, pretty darn cool) solution is proposed to solve it. It's the Only Way! Then some other jerk points out that a much simpler Mundane Solution exists that would probably be more effective. Most often, it's a villain (usually of the Diabolical Mastermind or Evil Overlord variety) proposing the complicated scheme, and it is a savvy minion (or occasionally even The Hero himself) questioning their boss's grade-A Bond Villain Stupidity. However, it's not unheard of for clever villains to brag about the fact that they're eschewing elaborate Death Traps and intend to just shoot the hero, making them a No-Nonsense Nemesis. Sometimes, it's a Hyper-Competent Sidekick wondering why the hero is adhering to Honor Before Reason. See also Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and Lampshade Hanging. Just Eat Gilligan is built around not having anyone do this. If someone actually does the simple solution, Reality Ensues.
Kryten: Or we could use the teleporter.
Lister: Or, in a pinch, we could use the teleporter.
Kryten: Or we could use the teleporter.
Lister: Or, in a pinch, we could use the teleporter.
— Red Dwarf, "Rimmerworld"
open/close all folders
- 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
- Dragon Ball Z:
- King Cold advises his son Frieza that revenge would be easier by just blowing up the Earth from space. Frieza rejects this notion, stating that he wants to see Goku suffer. One episode later, both Frieza and Cold are killed by Trunks.
- After being warned from the future that in three years, two androids built by Dr. Gero will murder all of them, Bulma does this when she suggests simply finding out where Dr. Gero is and killing him before he activates the androids. She's promptly shot down because Goku and Vegeta like the sound of the challenge these androids will bring. In some versions, Krillin also tells her in secret that it's best to give former villains Piccolo and Vegeta a mutual enemy. Goku also suggests that since Dr. Gero hasn't built the androids yet, it would be tantamount to killing an innocent person, which he doesn't want to do (of course, he's forgetting that Gero was the lead scientist of the Red Ribbon Army, and so most of their tech was probably built by him). Vegeta, meanwhile, says that even by the time they found Dr. Gero, it would be too late.
- In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ and the subsequent Dragon Ball Super adaptation; after being revived, Frieza announces his plan for revenge against Goku. Tagoma, one of his minions, speaks out against it, telling him that he could just go back to ruling his empire in space with Goku and the Z-Fighters never the wiser. In response, Frieza either kills him on the spot (Resurrection 'F') or uses him as his personal training dummy for four months (Super).
- In the original Dragon Ball series, Staff Officer Black insists to Commander Red that they're no match for Goku and the smartest thing to do is simply to let him have the Dragon Balls, escape while they can, and rebuild the Red Ribbon Army later. Of course, after killing Red and taking over the army for himself, Black refuses to take his own advice and tries to beat Goku using a Mini-Mecha.
- 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. 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...?
- Death Note:
Light: What are you doing, hurry up and write his name down!... Now's the time to kill him! Kill him right now!!
- Inverted when Soichiro confronts Mello with the eponymous Artifact of Doom; Light spends a few unpleasant moments at his desk before his father's refusal to take a human life gets him shot. Light, of course, finds this incomprehensible.
- 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). This comes back to bite him in the ass courtesy of Angewomon's Arrow of Light.
- 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 unnecessarily, and shooting Kabuto would be easier and quicker.
- Muteki Kanban Musume:
- 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.
- This is one of Ohta’s duties as the Meta Guy.
- 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.
Kyo: Why didn't I think of that?!?Yuki and Shigure: Because you're stupid.
- Played for Laughs in the Haiyore! Nyarko-san mini-episodes Nyaruani. Mahiro is reading the first Nyarko-San novel and asks Cuuko: "You wanted to see Nyarko badly enough that you joined a criminal organization, but then you joined the Planetary Defense Organization thanks to an uncle in H.R. So why didn't you just join the PDO to begin with so you could see her as a colleague?" Cuuko responds by lighting the novel on fire and telling Mahiro it's a warning.
- In Fairy Tail, Gajeel is fighting an enemy who can surround everyone with poisonous water. He's fighting but running out of air when Levy swoops in and uses an Underwater Kiss to give him air. Levy is horribly embarrassed when Gajeel later points out she could have just used her particular ability- magical writing that becomes whatever word is written- to conjure air without having to do that.
- In Karin, as the titular character angsts over how her vampiric instincts reacts to Usui's depression, her family just tells her to "Bite him already" since that would fix both their issues.
- In Cross Ange, when Ange, Tusk, and Vivian meet up with the survivors of Arzenal inside the Aurora, Ange proposes a simple solution so that Libertus will succeed: "Why not just join with the DRAGONs? We have a common enemy and they're willing to cooperate with us. They're humans who can be reasoned with unlike our humans here". Everyone does agree, except for Jill.
- In My Monster Secret, Youko, a half-vampire, gets deep suntans from just brief exposure to sunlight (so much so that just walking to school leaves her looking like she was deliberately tanning on the beach the day before). She undergoes military-style training from Aizawa in order to learn how to go from shadow to shadow and minimize her exposure, but stops short when she reaches a point were there are no shadows. Just when she's about to give up, Asahi remarks that it's too bad Youko can't just use sunblock, figuring that she must have already tried it before...only for Youko to get embarrassed and look away. She comes to school the next day with her skin lily-white and admits to her friends that she'd never thought of sunblock before, to which they both reply "We already figured that out."
- In the Saki Spin-Off "Saki Biyori", this happens twice in Shindouji's second chapter, in which, as a result of one thing leading to another, the "round robin journal" used to chronicle the club's activities ends up getting a comic strip that everyone contributes to. When Club President Mairu is unable to continue, her best friend Himeko asks her whether they need one, causing Mairu to issue a ban. Popular demand forces them to bring the comic strip back, though, but Himeko has another plan in mind- giving the comic an ending.
- In The DCU, 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. The scientists argue the point, but they ultimately comply. Fortunately, they are still so reluctant to do so that they take too long to get that task done that Rom still escapes in time.
- 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.
- Deadshot's proposed solution to pretty much every Suicide Squad mission. Even when it isn't an assassination. The Wall usually relegates it to "plan B".
- 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.
- The Question: Charlie's final epiphany about how to deal with the insurmountable Wretched Hive that is Hub City: Give up on it and leave.
- From Tank Vixens, when Üdda muses about her need for combat from her heavily-armed, orbital battle cruiser:
Mook: Herr General—V'y not ch'ust nuke der liddle foxies out from orbit? You know, a liddle missile here, a liddle napalm dere? V'e cook 'em up real good for ya!Üdda: ...V'ell how are ve gonna haff der nifty tank battles und bloodshed if you chust bomb everyt'ink!?!
- Subverted in the JLA story New Year's Evil: Prometheus has rendered Green Lantern helpless and muses that he could just shoot him if he chose to—then proceeds to do just that. (GL survives.)
- Used in a Richie Rich story where Richie's friend, kid comedian Jackie Jokers, has realised that the "president" of the United States is a fake, but then he and Richie are kidnapped before they can expose the fake. It's all part of a plot to blow up Washington DC with a stolen atomic bomb, then blame the attack on an obvious Captain Ersatz of the Soviet Union and have both countries destroy each other, leaving the plotters' country as the most powerful in the world. But instead of simply shooting the boys once the plotters have them helpless, they leave them tied up right next to the ticking atomic bomb and of course the boys escape and manage to find a way to stop the bomb.
- In the MAD parody of Double Jeopardy, the main character briefly considers using the fact that her husband, whom she was framed for murdering, is in fact alive against him to secure her exoneration and ensure he gets his just desserts, but instead is talked into doing what she did in the movie- killing him under the belief that she can't be tried for his murder again.
- During the overly Anvilicious Batman story The Seduction of the Gun Tim Drake is incredibly annoyed to learn that the high school he's infiltrated, where supposedly over 95% of the school population brings a gun to school, only turns on the metal detectors at the doors on Wednesday mornings. Despite the fact that figuring out what's wrong with the school board and having the metal detectors actually used would have solved most of the plot this is never brought up again.
- 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.
- Happens in this Pearls Before Swine comic, where Pig comes up with an elaborate plan on what to do if he gets separated from his young companion at an amusement park, including discussing what he'll be wearing and where they should meet. The kid promptly pulls out his cell phone and suggests "...or I could just call you."
- A winter-themed Peanuts Sunday strip from the '60s has Charlie Brown worrying about Snoopy getting cold at night, telling Linus and Lucy he's tried giving him blankets, giving him straw, etc. Linus then suggests that Snoopy try sleeping inside his doghouse instead of on top of it. The others look at him like he's got rocks in his head, leading to Linus admitting in the final panel that "it was sort of a ridiculous suggestion".
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin is worried over Rosalyn coming over to babysit again, and unsure of how to handle it. Hobbes suggest that maybe they could try being good for a change. Calvin incredulously asks him to repeat that. Hobbes just says, "Nothing. Forget it."
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: At one point, Felucia points out to Dark that he could solve a lot of problems if he simply stood up to Arial and told her how he feels instead of just sitting back and doing nothing while Mizore jumps through hoops and endures all manner of mistreatment to earn Arial's approval. Sadly, Dark can't bare going against Arial's wishes, even if it costs him a happy life with Mizore.
- 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!
- One of the many fanfics where Naruto is banished from Konoha has Danzo asking an imprisoned Sasuke if it ever occurred to him to ask for harder training.
- 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.
- In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, Lelouch asks xenophobic Nina why her parents don't simply send her to a prestigious school in the homeland away from Numbers.
- In Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji, Louise is beside herself with worry over the idea of entering a Master/Apprentice Contract with Saito as it would functionally allow him to punish her in anyway he wanted for anything he wanted. She's utterly shocked when Saito suggests they simply alter the contract to limit what punishments he can give out and for what reasons.
- After Harry Potter performs a complex ritual to summon Satan in A Deal With..., Satan informs Harry that he has an 800 number now and Harry could have simply called him.
- The Stairs Coup in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Quick Fix, Luna's majordomo, felt that Luna needed some stairs leading up to her chambers, in case the Night Court needed to contact her in an emergency. So in order to prove his point, he staged a fake coup, complete with sending orders to Equestria's armies to muster on the borders of half a dozen neighboring nations. Though this does convince Luna to install some stairs, she does not fall to point out that Quick Fix could have just talked to her about it.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when the supporters ask the Eternal Dragon to bring Goku back to life so he can defend Earth from the Saiyans. Shenron offers to just deal with the Saiyans directly, but they insist on having Goku do it. Interestingly, the name of that episode was "Nobody Listens to the Magical Dragon".
- In Sword Art Online Abridged:
- In Episode 10, one half of Kirito's brain is smart enough to realize that Asuna's surprise adoption of Yui is an attempt to scare him into calling off their rather hasty marriage because she doesn't think it's a good idea either, and all they have to do to resolve the situation is talk things out like adults. It's slapped down by the other half of Kirito's brain, which resolves to play along until she blinks first.
- At the end of the first season, when Kirito and Asuna learn why Kayaba imprisoned ten thousand people inside a lethal video game - he created a glitch that killed players when their avatars died, and claimed I Meant to Do That because he hadn't slept in 300 hours - Asuna asks why he didn't try to blame hackers impersonating him instead of continuing the charade for two years, given he had no motive.
Kayaba: (chuckles) Yeah, okay, see, Asuna? The problem with that is that it's... an excellent idea that I wish I had thought of two years ago. (long, painful pause) Anyhoo, on that sobering note, I think I'm gonna go scream into that uncaring void for a bit.
- In For Love of Magic, Harry notes that the Quidditch World Cup could have solved a lot of problems by either letting the muggle landowner in on magic then obliviating him later or finding one they could bribe to take an extended vacation.
- When Harry has to find somewhere to ditch his highly distinctive ship due to the massive bounty on his head in I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Ahsoka suggests he just leave it where it is: in the middle of space far from any planets or hyperspace lanes. The odds of anyone finding it are functionally zero.
- The omake Where Blackmail Might or Might Not Happen does this to The Demesne Of The Reluctant Twilight Sparkle. In that fanfic, nobles with old claims to demesnes are dusting them off and taking full advantage of an unfair, outdated law that Celestia was trying to have slide into obscurity (although Luna torpedoed that by giving Twilight Sparkle the titular demesne). In the omake, Celestia immediately abolishes the law, and when the nobles try to rebel, she points out that one of rights they'll be waiving is the crown's protection. Like from Discord, who has just been given a week off to do whatever he wants. Notable because the author of the original fic acknowledged that the path the omake took was probably the most logical one, but if he were to use it, he'd be left without a story.
- In Copy Cat several X-Men try to puzzle out how an unconscious newcomer could be the child of four different members of the team, until one suggests they're his grandparents rather than the guy somehow having four parents. Granted, both ideas are wrong; Xander used pieces of each X-Man's costumes for Halloween and instinctively teleported to the Xavier Mansion when the spell ended.
- In Once More with Feeling, after Asuka complains about having to sleep on a futon for the umpteenth time, Shinji suggests she just buy herself a bed, since she now has more than enough money to do so.
- In This Bites!, Commander Drake asks why Vice Admiral Jonathan hasn't simply shot Terry and Isaiah, to which Jonathan responds that he can't afford the two million beri fine.
- In Three Badasses In Westeros, Lysa Arryn has kidnapped Catelyn Stark and Tyrion Lannister (who had been taken there by Catelyn like in the books) as revenge for Littlefinger's death. Tywin Lannister and Eddard Stark are all for sending their armies to the Eyrie. Robert Baratheon points out that it would be far easier and cheaper to send some of their men to sneak in and get the two out without calling undue attention.
- In A Man of Iron, the royals and nobles want Iron Man arrested for being a vigilante and challenging their authority, but note that his armor seemingly can't be pierced, making defeating him seemingly impossible. Varys suggests figuring out where he lives and attacking him while he's not in the armor.
- Timmy mentions in The Truth about Prince Charming that after Vicky started making out with him, he could have easily ended her reign of terror in the neighborhood by going to the cops. She was 18 and he was 12, so she'd be imprisoned for molesting a minor. He didn't because he fell in love with her as well, and instead just insisted she stop tormenting his friends.
- Fate Parallel Fantasia:
- When Rin finds out Homura can stop time, she asks why Homura doesn't just stop time and kill all the other Servants and Masters right now. Homura shoots the suggestion down. Keeping time frozen for even a few minutes costs a lot of prana, plus if she touches anything, they unfreeze, so she can't attack in this state.
- Homura offers Rin a gun and suggests Rin shoot the opposing Masters while Homura keeps their Servants busy. Rin declines, saying battles between magi should be decided with only magic.
- In the Worm x Dishonored crossover fanfic, A Change of Pace, Vicky's second-trigger stops her from getting close to people or she'll basically render them into brain-dead worshippers, so she hasn't talked to her sister or aunt. Taylor hands her a cell-phone, leaving her to lampshade this. Though, in her defense she was grieving and didn't have time to really think on it.
- A sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has the Orange League Champion Drake worried because his challengers are growing dangerously close to beating him, and he promised his Dragonite that they would never be defeated. A couple times he's suggested that he should just retire undefeated, but he's not interested in doing that.
Films — Animation
- In 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 Word not to lay a finger — or hook — on Peter. He never breaks a promise.
- The Emperor's New Groove:
- 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!!
- Also applies to the law of Jasmine having to marry a prince. Only by the end of the film does it dawn on the Sultan that he has the power to change the law to allow Jasmine to marry whoever she likes. Which was, admittedly, about thirty seconds after he found out that was the actual issue instead of her suitors just not interesting her.
- 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.
- The sequel, The Return of Jafar, even has a bit of this. Jafar, now a genie himself, can't kill Aladdin because of the same rules. But, as Jafar quickly rationalizes, even though a genie can't kill someone directly, he can just get someone else to do it for him. And if all else fails? Just summon a lava pit. Hey, it's not like you would technically be the one killing him.
- Inverted in BIONICLE 3: Sidorak wants to drop the Toa, who are held captive in cocoons, from atop the Coliseum, but his viceroy Roodaka convinces him to make the event more "legendary", so they wait until the Toa are mutated and disfigured by the cocoons' venom and then let them drop, by which time the Rahaga have arrived to save them mid-fall. Explained in the books as Roodaka wanting their last moments to be realizing how utterly they had failed in their goal to rescue the Matoran and as bit of karmic vengeance for their imprisonment of Makuta Teridax.
- Zootopia: Nick and Judy find a train car full of vital evidence. Nick suggests taking a small brief case containing relevant evidence and leaving before the bad guys realize they're there. Unfortunately Judy impulsively wants all of the evidence delivered to the police. So she hijacks the train car. And crashes it, destroying all of the evidence. Fortunately for her, Nick still has the briefcase on him.
- Sleeping Beauty: King Stefan's initial plan to save his daughter's life from the curse Maleficent placed on her? Have all the spinning wheels in the kingdom burned! If there are no spinning wheels, then she can't fatally prick herself on her sixteenth birthday, can she? Unfortunately, Maleficent just conjures one into existence.
- Isle of Dogs: Chief's pack and a rival dog pack are ready to fight over a sack full of leftovers when Rex pipes up and says that they can open the sack and see if it's worth the trouble. They do just that, and Rex lists all that's in the sack before Chief finally declares, "Okay, it's Worth It", and they all start fighting anyway.
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 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. 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 Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku puts the heroes into an arena, to be killed by large monsters. This, of course, doesn't work, and Viceroy Gunray demands their execution by shooting. Dooku actually listens, but The Cavalry arrives before anything can be done about it.
- 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!"
- Batman Forever:
Two-Face: No more riddles, no more curtains one and two! Just plain curtains!
- 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.
- 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 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 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 Fargo when Jerry is explaining his complex plot to get his own wife kidnapped and get the ransom money, Grimsrund and Showalter point out that he could just ask his father-in-law for the money. The film ultimately reveals that the scheme is actually for much more money than Grimsrund and Showalter thought, and Jerry would not have even been able to borrow that much from his father-in-law.
- 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 panics Jones into triggering his gun.
- The exact same thing happens to Bruce Willis again in the Sin City movie, as an Actor Allusion.
- 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 mid speech. "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 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.
- In The Phantom, when Kit and Diana find the jade Skull of Touganda at the Museum of World History, Diana suggests contacting an acquaintance of hers to have the skull retrieved. Kit however simply smashes the glass surrounding the skull and grabs it.
- 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 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.
- Lampshaded in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: "If you're gonna shoot, shoot, don't talk!"
- 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 Cinderella (2015), when Ella is asked why she doesn't just leave the Tremaines and move away, she states that she can't because she cares for the house her family has owned for 200 years and doesn't want to see them practically destroy it.
- In Sling Blade a man who owns a repair shop spends hours trying to figure out why a small engine won't start. His simple-minded assistant, Karl, then points out that it doesn't have any gas.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort wants to capture Harry because spilling "the blood of an enemy" is required for a ritual that will let him come Back from the Dead. Pettigrew points out that there are a lot of people who consider Voldemort an enemy, and suggests kidnapping someone less famous and well-guarded. Voldemort admits that this would be much easier, but insists on using Harry anyway because he wants to come back stronger than he was before.
- Later in the same book, 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.
- 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.
- Proof that this always has been and always will be an essential part of the Super Hero formula: In The Elusive Pimpernel, one of Baroness Orczy's sequels to the Super Hero Trope Codifier The Scarlet Pimpernel, while Chauvelin is practically orgasming over his overly-complicated plans to make the Scarlet Pimpernel suffer an intricate Fate Worse than Death, his assigned Number Two Collot d'Herbois suggests they just shoot him.
"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."
- By the time of Lord Tony's Wife, it's Chauvelin who's advocating quick executions of aristos rather than putting them through elaborate public humiliation. The longer they're alive, he reasons, the more chance the Pimpernel has to rescue them.
- In the tie-in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 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.
- The Dresden Files:
- In the novel Summer Knight, The Dragon notes that he had suggested just killing Harry several times during the course of the book (since this would have ruined the Big Bad's Batman Gambit, the Big Bad didn't listen). The trope is then inverted when the Big Bad immediately wants to kill Harry once He Has Outlived His Usefulness, but The Mole points out that just killing him would expose them to Harry's Dying Curse. This leads to them leaving Harry to drown in magical quicksand and escape while he's busy drowning. Which was The Mole's plan all along, as she was planning to betray the Big Bad.
- 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.
- Captain Underpants: In the fourth book, Professor Poopypants is Driven to Madness over people constantly making fun of his name and uses Shrink Rays and Humongous Mecha to hold the world hostage, threatening to shrink everyone in the world unless they change their names to ones just as silly as his. When Captain Underpants defeats him and he's being taken away by the police, George and Harold point out that he could have simply changed his own name instead, to which the Professor confesses that such a solution had never occurred to him. Sadly, the name he chooses to change to, Tippy Tinkletrousers, is just as unfortunate.
- Pretty much happens in every episode of Eureka. The super-scientists will cause a problem and go through various complex methods to try and solve it. It's Carter (the one-non genius in the town) who comes up with the solution that's so simple that it never occurs to the geniuses and saves the day.
- 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.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- 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 courtesy of Willow.
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...
- Angelus insists on using his mind games on Buffy, while Spike insists that he finish her off before she gets really mad and kills them all. Guess what? He's right... after what Angelus did to upset Giles, not only did they have to contend with a very pissed-off Slayer, but she was hot on the heels of her Watcher, who was whaling on Angelus with a flaming baseball bat after throwing a molotov cocktail into the factory.
Spike: Why don't you rip her lungs out? It might make an impression.
Angelus: Lacks... poetry.
Spike: Doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?
- Roden begs Genevive to kill Faith, believing she is a threat, but she ignores him.
- 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 courtesy of Willow.
- Burn Notice:
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.
- 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):
- Also, when Michael goes undercover one or more of the crook's other associates will often wonder why they don't just shoot Michael when he's pretty clearly lying to them or making unhelpful suggestions that are likely to get them caught and/or killed. Semi-justified here, in that Michael is very good at engineering situations to prevent the decision-making crooks from actually pulling the trigger (most often by making his lies just plausible enough to make him seem useful—and hey, he's a trained spy: the government spent thousands if not millions teaching him how to do just this).
- Later, when Michael does start to use bullets instead of more complicated solutions, things start to go hairy for him fast, such as when he straight up murders his former mentor, who is unarmed at this point and is in his own CIA office.
- 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 "Day of the Doctor" the 10th, 11th, and War Doctors programmed their sonic screwdrivers to dissolve the wooden door of their cell in the Tower of London. As they are about to so, Clara opens the unlocked door.
Clara: Three of you in one cell, and none of you thought to try the door?
- In "Day of the Doctor" the 10th, 11th, and War Doctors programmed their sonic screwdrivers to dissolve the wooden door of their cell in the Tower of London. As they are about to so, Clara opens the unlocked door.
- In the Drake & Josh episode "Number One Fan", Josh takes the Campfire Kids to the movie theater to learn about wilderness navigation. He asks the kids a hypothetical question about them getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere with only a compass and a topographic map as guides, but Megan insists that she could simply call her mother on her cellphone.
- Stargate SG-1:
- 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 shield 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 actually say anything, he just removes a couple of grenades from his equipment, pulls the pins, and drops them down the shaft. It should be noted this is the moment where Bra'tac starts seeing the Tau'ri as warriors worthy of respect.
- 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 You 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.
- Used to highlight the incompatibility of Ronon and Keller. When the two are hiding from the Wraith who have taken over their ship, they agree that they need to disable the ship so the Wraith can't get to their destination. Keller muses about how to hack into the security system and disable the various systems one-by-one. Ronon just starts shooting out control panels.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Suspecting that Gowron, supreme leader of the Klingon Empire, is 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 enough 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 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 lampshaded 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.
- Red Dwarf: "Or we could use the teleporter."
Kryten: Sir wouldn't it have been easier to look him up in the phone book?
- In addition to said page quote, a similar moment happens in the Back to Earth special. Taking a cue from Blade Runner, Rimmer obtains the phone number of somebody they're looking for using an extremely long-winded and complicated form of Zoom and Enhance on a photograph, by bouncing off the reflections of various objects in the picture (and some that aren't) until they get the man's number on the back of his business card by seeing a reverse angle of the original photo. After the whole charade, Kryten bluntly asks:
- 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 , 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.
- MacGyver (1985): In "Deadly Silents", Karl's partner Neil keeps urging to just shoot Mac and Pinky and dump their bodies somewhere. After multiple attempts to Make It Look Like an Accident fail, Karl gives in and agrees to just shoot them. It fails.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look:
- "Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit", a mismatched pair of superheroes who fight crime. In each sketch, BMX Bandit would draw up a complicated strategy involving his BMX tricks, only for Angel Summoner to point out it's easier to just summon some angels to do everything for them. Subverted in the final installment, when it's BMX Bandit suggesting some angel-summoning, rather than risk his life trying to perform an impossible jump and fight a group of terrorists, but Angel Summoner refuses to because of a previous agreement. Then it turns out he summoned some angels anyway.
- One sketch revolves around a medieval king constantly giving jobs to his Camp Gay underling / crush Lucentio, much to the aggravation of his lords, since Lucentio is pretty useless. Eventually, one of the lords approaches the king and asks why he doesn't just have sex with Lucentio, rather than giving him important jobs and titles. So he does.
- In The Blacklist an eco-terrorist is flying a helicopter to cause a nuclear accident. Aram uses his hacking skills to get into the helicopter's computer and talks of how he can use a special program to undo the air balance of the copter and drive it off course. Director Ressler angrily asks "can't you just shut down the rotor? Shut the damn thing down?" Adar pauses and realizes he can do that to ground the copter.
- In Kamen Rider Build, protagonist Sento's Transformation Belt runs off of "Full Bottles" which contain the essence of animals, machines, etc. He tries to identify Best Matches (pairs with high compatibility) because they're more powerful, and does so with a testing device built into the wall of his Elaborate Underground Base. After being told all this, Dumb Muscle Ryuga tries it out and the very first pair of Bottles he tests turns out to be a Best Match, to Sento's amazement. Ryuga explains that his logic was "living creature plus inanimate object", something that Sento had dismissed as too obvious in spite of the fact that the Best Matches he had already discovered followed this patternnote .
- In Inhumans, Karnak needs to suture Jen's wound to prevent her bleeding out. He starts striping a palm frond to use as a makeshift solution. Jen suggests just using her travel sewing kit she keeps on her. Clothes tend to catch and rip on the trees.
- Once combined with Dumbass Has a Point in Gilligan's Island. It's been discovered that the Howells' marriage was not legally binding (the officiant being a fraud), which causes friction between them that is driving the other castaways batty. Gilligan says he has a solution, and the Skipper, fed up with Gilligan's Zany Schemes doesn't want to hear it... when Gilligan's solution is to merely have the Skipper, who is considered to have the authority to officiate a wedding when on a craft in water, perform a simple ceremony while standing on a raft in the lagoon. Skipper seems flabbergasted and agrees.
- In Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow, the Big Bad Eobard Thawne never really tries to actually kill the Legends, despite being able to do it in the space of a second, frequently coming up with other means to deal with them. On the other hand, he's always on the run from the Black Flash. His partners Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn keep invoking this trope, but he ignores them. He finally takes the gloves off in the season finale, ripping Ray's heart out (luckily, there's another version of Ray.)
- Off that, Thawne is constantly running from the Black Flash who can detect him by his speed. When he finally tells this to Darkh and Merlyn, they suggest a very easy answer: Stop running.
- On The Flash, the team are trying to find a country music star who is being hunted by an enemy. They try to figure out ways to track her using their various powers and such but come up short. New teammate Ralph then asks if any of them have checked her website.
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 Ragnarok. 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.
Urban Legends & Anecdotes
- There is an anecdote about monks arguing over how many teeth are in a horse's mouth. One naive young man suggests finding an actual horse and counting the teeth, but is shouted down because the monks believe scientific questions are properly answered by consulting old authorities, not by empirical methods. The anecdote, which serves to ridicule the medieval "scholasticist" approach to science, is of dubious truth value and may be no older than the 20th century.
- 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.
- 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 find an 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. This is in fact an extremely common solution to the problem with the proviso that unless you're very close to clearing the overpass while your tires are fully inflated it won't help. Deflate your tires and you'll ruin them by the time you clear the overpass which would cost thousands of dollars to replace to say nothing of if you damage the wheels themselves. Oversize load routing is intricately planned to avoid such eventualities.
- A joke is told about a driver who gets a flat tire just outside the fence of a mental asylum. Nervous about being stopped in such a place, he quickly starts to change the tire, putting the nuts in the hubcap while he wrestles the spare on. He then accidentally kicks the hubcap and the nuts fly out, disappearing into the tall grass beside the road. Suddenly, he hears a voice: an inmate watching him from just inside the fence tells him to take one nut from each of the other three wheels and use those, and that should serve to hold the spare in place long enough for him to get to a garage and replace them. He says "That's a great idea! What's somebody like you doing in a mental asylum?" The inmate's reply is "I'm in here because I'm crazy, not because I'm stupid."
- Used by Guybrush in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge after LeChuck captures Guybrush, ties him and Wally up into an extremely elaborate torture device, and explains his plan to have both of them killed. When Guybrush asks why LeChuck didn't shoot him as soon as he came in, he responds: "Because we had an extra disk."
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
- Inverted 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 the remakes, the achievement for killing Ocelot and creating a TIME PARADOX is "Problem Solved, Series Over." Snake Eater is a prequel, and Ocelot is a major Wild Card with a hand in just about every problem in the series.
- Lampshaded in Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle 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 II. 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.
- Star Trek Online:
- In "Capture the Flag" Gaius Selan and Narrel propose venting plasma onto a Vaadwaur who seems invincible in order to create a vulnerability. Since you're standing in the transporter room at the time your character suggests just beaming him out into space, but Selan says he tried that already.
- In Dust to Dust it's possible to suggest using transporters to bypass the Kobali temple's security measures in your hunt for Keten/Ensign Kim. Captain Kim remarks that it's a good idea... and then, when trying to set it up, realizes that he can't contact his ship (prompting you to remark that the same seems to be true for your and your ship).
- Batman: Arkham Series:
- Batman: Arkham Origins: At the beginning of the game, Alfred points out that, since no one knows Batman's Secret Identity but Alfred and Batman himself, he could just stay inside for the night to avoid the assassins, since Black Mask's bounty is only good for one night. Batman shoots that down, pointing out that the assassins will just endanger innocent people to lure him out anyway.
- In Batman: Arkham City, Batman needs to Find the Cure for the toxin that is slowly killing himself, The Joker, and dozens of citizens in hospitals. He is frequently sidetracked by having to fight mooks and villains. Joker calls him and orders him to stop wasting time fighting them and just kill them. Of course, Batman does not kill and doesn't listen.
- A minor version in World of Warcraft when a paladin gets upset that the caravan he's in keeps making stops instead of continuing to Light's Hope Chapel. Eventually, the senior paladin Argus remarks that they aren't far from the chapel and suggests he simply walk there.
- In the first Ronin mission in Saints Row 2, the Saints want to rob a casino controlled and guarded by a rival gang. Pierce comes up with an elaborate multi-stage heist plan reminiscent of Ocean's Eleven. Johnny Gat suggests just walking in, murdering all the guards and taking whatever they want. Since the Saints are violent sociopaths and not cunning thieves, The Boss picks Option 2.
- 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 maybe 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.
- Umineko: When They Cry: This is used to solve the Closed Circle mystery of episode 2's First Twilight - how was the killer able to get 6 people inside the chapel when only Maria had the key and Rosa is absolutely sure that the door to the chapel was locked? Simple - Rosa is lying about the chapel being locked.
- 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.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles:
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.
- When the Reds spy on the Blues with the scopes of their sniper rifles, Donut points out that if they can see their enemies, they can shoot them right now. Sarge refuses, saying not killing your enemies up close and personal is not very satisfying.
- The bread and butter How It Should Have Ended- stating the far simpler and/or funnier way to solve the problem of the story than what the characters in the movie did. Examples include the Jurassic World park containing the Indominus Rex by such simple measures as not putting in a dinosaur-sized exit to the habitat and building a moat inside it (something real life zoos very often do), Bucky avoiding his conditioning being activated by plugging his ears, and June preventing the whole plot of the film by making sure that the statue the Enchantress was trapped in is never damaged or broken, like a good archeologist. It's also sometimes Deconstructed, like in the Inside Out HISHE, in which the simple method leads to Bing-Bong revealing the existence of the Mind World to Riley, causing her to go insane.
- 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.
Bumper: "Yeah! We could come up with an ironic revenge that robs him of his dignity and pride!"Stunt: "I want to stab him in the face."Bumper: "That should work."
- Another incident had Bumper and Stunt come across an unconscious Dominic on the street being tended to by Luna...
- 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.
- Happens a couple times in Mag Isa.
- Darths & Droids: This strip and yes, a link to this page. May the Force preserve us, we're stuck in an infinite loop!:
Boba Fett: (to Jango) Why couldn't you just shoot him?
Jango Fett: What sort of criminal mastermind would I be if I did that?
- Antihero for Hire: Both averted and lampshaded when Dr. Nefarious, embarrassed by his evil plan's failure, says he'd rather just shoot Shadehawk. Shadehawk is actually PROUD of him.
- This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic hangs a lampshade. 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 16th 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. Of course, none of this negates the fact that Maleficent probably could have taken out an infant if she wanted to, instead of waiting sixteen years for her revenge or whatever.
- 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.
- Bob and George: "Um, wouldn't it be easier to, say, blast me now, while I'm hanging here completely defenseless?"
- Oglaf: Mistress, clearly aware of the situation, cuts to the chase.
- Awkward Zombie: Professor Layton refuses to do anything unless it's roundabout, elaborate and involves as many matchsticks as possible.
- In Girl Genius:
Higgs: So write her a letter. [...]Higgs: Why I smacked you?Gil: Or... I could just... write...
- Moloch von Zinser is not a Spark, and tends to think in practical terms rather than Mad Science ones. It usually annoys them.
- The Unstoppable Airman Higgs (Spark quotient: who knows?) is more used to their ways, but even he has his breaking point, as amply demonstrated here when Gil's pining over Agatha gets too overwrought.
- 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 Questionable Content, Hannelore's father sends her a strange device, but neglects to include any instructions, or even a description. She spends a few strips with Marten and Claire trying to figure out what it could be, until Dora walks in and points out they could just call Hannelore's father.
Marten: [Face Palm] I can't believe that didn't occur to any of us.
- Defied on Sequential Art. Whenever the gang runs into a life-threatening problem, Art is usually the one to come up with the obvious solution of simply calling the police. Unfortunately, Pip or Kat usually points out that the types of situations they run into are considered prank calls by the police, so that's not actually a viable option.
- Grrl Power: The heroes find a portal the bad guy used to escape and want to know where it leads. Obviously they can't just go through themselves, since it's probably trapped to hell and back. But the bad guy left a minion behind, so Dabbler interrogates him, plants a tracker on him, lets him escape, and starts tracking him across the city while doing high-level mathematics in her head to predict exactly where he's going so they'll have a team ready in time. Then Sydney mentions that it's too bad they couldn't have just put a tracking spell on a rock and tossed it into the portal, and Dabbler lapses into embarrassed silence.
Sydney: You mean that would have worked?
- In the Fan Fic Dark 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.
- James Rolfe made a video for "Cinemassacre's Top 10 Worst Movie Clichés". Number 1 is labeled "Stupid Villains" and boils down to him demanding "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?!" It ends with a The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie clip that subverts and lampshades the trope.
- 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.
- The Spoony Experiment:
Original Spoony: That's why I started training at a Shaolin monastery... until I realized the lessons would be really expensive, so I just went out and bought this gun!
- When Original!Spoony shows up intending to take back his show from Clone!Spoony:
- Lampshaded in this video, starring Gun Man.
- 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 bad guy 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.
- In the Achievement Hunter Let's Play GTA V episode "Lindsay's Heist", the gang attempts to push a port-a-potty into a truck from a high building, a port-a-potty that would be used to carry their "loot" and be picked up by the Cargobob. Ryan Haywood points out the obvious solution - just get the Cargobob and take the port-a-potty with them. There's a brief silence before they tell him to shut up.
- Resident Evil Abridged: Wesker lures his own team out to the Spencer Mansion so he can kill them off to cover up his involvement with Umbrella. Yet, when the group is being pursued by the pack of zombified Dobermans at the beginning, he saves Chris, who eventually becomes his nemesis. So when Wesker finally reveals himself to be a traitor to S.T.A.R.S. and his motive, Chris asks a simple question:
Chris: "Wait. THAT was your plan all this time? Then why didn't you just lock us outside the mansion with all those cerberuses??"
- Hello Internet: In one episode, Grey laments that try as he might, he can't find a collared shirt with the exact attributes he wants. He's gotten so frustrated about this that he has occasionally, but very seriously, considered starting a small factory just to create the shirts he wants. In the next episode's follow-up, Myke mentions that many fans asked why Grey didn't just go to a tailor. Grey admits that this had never occurred to him, partly because he unconsciously thought of tailors as something from a bygone era.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: In the episode "The DVD," Gumball accidentally ruins a DVD he rented, and goes through all manner of elaborate Zany Schemes to either pay for or replace said DVD. Darwin suggests that they simply "face the consequences of their actions and tell Mom" every few minutes or so, but Gumball dismisses him every time. In the end, when Nicole does find out and simply pays for the DVD, Gumball hypocritically throws the same "face the consequences of their actions" line right back at Darwin; Darwin, justifiably pissed, promptly decks him for it.
- An episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series has one of these. The two cows, Duchess and Princess, are arguing that the other is taking up too much room in their stall. Cadpig tries to help, by using her own style of therapy on them, which eventually leads to the entire Dearly Farm at each others throats. Duchess and Princess then explain what their issue is and Spot suggests they just open the side of their stall up, which they agree would work. Hearing how easy the solution is makes all the other animals enraged at Cadpig.
- In Steven Universe, during the episode "Sworn to the Sword", Steven becomes concerned for his friend Connie, but isn't quite sure how to tell her. He consults a book titled "How to Talk to People":
Step 1: Think about what you want to say.
Step 2: Say it.
- Batman: The Animated Series
- A comic-based episode had Joker poring over a variety of odd tortures to inflict on Batman; he 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 Death Trap ending for the hero, no matter how many times it's been tried and failed.
- 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.
- One episode has Batgirl and Catwoman suspended over acid after being captured by Roland Dagget. Batgirl tries to taunt him into gloating, telling their master plan, or killing them in some ridiculously elaborate villain way (to buy time to be rescued), but Dagget points out the simple and smart thing to do is to just shoot them and use the acid to dispose of the bodies.
- Justice League (also part of the DC Animated Universe)
- Several years later, it seems the Joker has learnt his lesson. After the Injustice Gang captures Batman, Luthor wants to keep Batman imprisoned 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's not much for 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?
- In Superman: The Animated Series, Mister Mxyzptlk's wife asks Mxyzptlk why he simply doesn't destroy Superman instead of playing games with him after Mxyzptlk expresses his annoyance with being repeatedly out-foxed by the Man of Steel. Mxyzptlk (who is a Reality Warper on level with a Physical God) decides to follow her advice... by building an overly complicated Humongous Mecha and trying to fight Superman with it. It works about as well as can be imagined. He did have a bit better luck when he just went with a kryptonite missile though; still failed but the attempt at being more direct was there.
- 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.
Rattrap: Oh for bootin' up cold!! Will ya just shoot 'im?
- 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:
- 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.
- Kim Possible has a tradition of Genre Blind villains and savvy henchmen, so you'll see the Simple Solution getting stated a lot.
Señor Senior Sr.: I will aim the laser so as to shoot the icicles, causing them to drop upon our foes.Señor Senior Jr.: Why do you not simply aim the laser at their bodies??Señor Senior Sr.: Junior, if you do not understand the traditions of villainy by now, I have failed as a parent.
- Señor Senior Sr. is a billionaire who has become a willfully genre-blind villain simply For the Lulz. His son, Señor Senior Jr., is not terribly bright but is at least capable of noticing that 'the traditions of villainy' are not very practical. His common-sense questions exasperate his father, who feels that his son "doesn't get it".
Shego: I prefer the 'direct approach', but you know Drakken....
- Shego, the Hypercompetent Sidekick to the resident Mad Scientist Dr. Drakken, tends to state simple solutions too, but usually out of exasperation. Drakken's forever coming up with ways to seal Kim in a deathtrap or break her Heroic Willpower, while Shego feels that it would take a lot less effort and brainpower to, you know, shoot her.
- In several episodes of Sonic SatAM (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.
- South Park: Knowing Cartman's trapper keeper will take over the world...
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 ridiculous 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.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Fallen Arches" presents a heroic example. The girls run up against the Ministry of Pain, an elderly team of arch-criminals who have recently come out of retirement. Despite Bubbles and Buttercup pointing out that they easily take them, Blossom refuses to let them fight the Ministry of Pain on the grounds that they have to "respect their elders," and instead decides to talk the Ministry's equally elderly archenemies, Captain Righteous and Lefty, out of retirement to do the job for them. The end result: all five old men end up hospitalized, and the local news outright states that the entire mess could have been avoided if the Powerpuff Girls had just stepped in and stopped the Ministry of Pain in the first place.
- In Johnny Test, the Butler of the villain, a cat (It Makes Sense in Context), asks him why his Doomsday Device has a countdown on it. The villain justifies this by pointing out it gives them enough time to get out of range.
- The Venture Bros.:
- 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 cartoonish super villainy.
- In the Masters of Evil episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, after the Masters captured five of the Avengers, Abomination tells Baron Zemo to kill the ones they have captured, because the others will come. But Zemo ignores, and even berates him. He really should have listened.
Abomination: It's a mistake to keep them alive, Zemo!
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
Edd: We could just go to my house, Eddy...
- In one episode, the Eds want to watch a monster movie at Ed's place, but Sarah keeps kicking them out.
Eddy: What? And ruin the plot?
Eddy: (tugging on a window latch with all his strength) WHAT'S WITH THESE STUPID WINDOWS?!Edd: (draws Eddy's attention, then calmly opens the backdoor, which was unlocked, and smirks.)Eddy: I hate it when you do that.
- And in "The Day the Ed Stood Still", when Eddy is trying to get into Kevin's house from the back to see the other kids' terrified reactions to Ed's monster form:
- 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.
- The Simpsons: In "Marge on the Lam" Ruth Powers stole her ex-husband's car since he wouldn't pay alimony. Marge's response:
Marge: Didn't you realize all you had to do was report him to the police?
- In an episode of Timon & Pumbaa, Timon and Pumbaa are in Spain where Pumbaa has been mistaken for a bull and is about to be forced into a bullfight he cannot win. While they wait for the fight to begin, Timon draws up an incredibly detailed escape plan involving maps, tunnels and much more. When he finishes, Pumbaa simply says "... maybe we should just sneak out the back door."
- On Gravity Falls, Dipper and Mabel need to sneak into the Mystery Shack, which is being guarded by government agents. Mabel suggests beating up the guards and do an Unnecessary Combat Roll as they go through the front door. Dipper then outright states that there's a simpler solution. They then use a Grappling-Hook Pistol to zipline through the attic window.
- This is actually the cause of the overarching Myth Arc when Stan tried to burn the journal Ford had given to him rather than go through a Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle. However, Ford didn't want his research destroyed and flipped out, resulting in a skirmish that got Ford sucked into his portal.
- Looney Tunes:
- In "Duck Dodgers in the 24˝th Century'', Dodgers shows the Space Cadet a needlessly complicated route for reaching Planet X, so complicated he doesn't even understand it himself. Cadet then suggests following a line of conveniently lettered planets, a suggestion Dodgers then takes as his own.
- In "My Little Duckaroo", Daffy is a bounty hunter trying to bring in outlaw Nasty Canasta. After failing to subdue him with tough talk, sidekick Porky says "Why don't you just plain old arrest him?" Daffy does just that, although it turns out to be just as ineffective.
- In one episode of Dave the Barbarian, the Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy is trying to break into Udregoth Castle. When his nephew asks why he doesn't just use the Mystical Amulet of Hogswineboar to blow a hole in the wall, Chuckles tries to give a reason and after failing, mutters how much he hates his nephew before using the amulet to blast the wall.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: In one episode, all of Jimmy Neutron's past villains have teamed up. They had just captured Jimmy on their spaceship and started shotgunning for ideas on how to kill him. Eventually, Finbar Calamatus starts to map out a ridiculously complicated and elaborate device that combined everyone's ideas, until Baby Eddie blurts out "Just blow him into deep space!"
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo has this as a Running Gag where, after the episode's villain goes on their Motive Rant, Daphne asks them why they didn't go with the obvious solution to their problem, to which they say they didn't think of it. For example, in the episode, "Night of the Living Burger", a local restaurant, O'Greazy's Bucket O' Fun Restaurant, is being haunted by a giant sentient burger. In the end, the villain turns out to be the restaurant's most decorated employee. He was upset that for all of his years of service, Mr. O'Greazy never gave him what he really wanted: a raise. Daphne then asks him why he didn't just quit and find a better paying job. He never thought of that.
- Dexter's Laboratory: In the Justice Friends minisode "Pain in the Mouth," Krunk suffers a toothache as a result of getting a tortilla chip stuck in his tooth, and Major Glory chooses to go through all manner of elaborate, overly complicated schemes to try to either remove the chip or the tooth; after every failure, Valhallen suggests that they simply take Krunk to the dentist, and every time, Major Glory blows him off on the grounds that he's The Leader, so they do what he says. Eventually, Krunk, recalling what his favorite TV show said to do when one has a toothache, goes to the dentist on his own, and said dentist is able to remove the chip quickly and painlessly.
- Chowder: In the episode "Gazpacho Moves In," Gazpacho, having been thrown out of his mother's house, stays at Mung Daal's catering company until he gets back on his feet, and quickly becomes The Thing That Would Not Leave. Mung Daal decides the best way to kick Gazpacho out is to use a Multi-Rye Sandwich to clone him, intending that Gazpacho would get so annoyed by his own behavior that he would leave. Truffles even lampshades it ("'Cause just asking him to leave makes so little sense."). The plan backfires when Gazpacho becomes friends with the clone, and when Chowder stupidly feeds him even more sandwiches and makes dozens of clones, it's only then that Mung decides to simply kick Gazpacho out.
- In the Family Guy episode, "Pilling Them Softly", Peter and Quagmire end up at odds over a cooking show they're working on. At the end, they both decide they don't want to lose their friendship over a tv show, and decide the only way to get out of it is to say the one word that cost Paula Deen her show. note Right before they're about to say it, it cuts to them at the Drunken Clam looking awkwardly at Cleveland, who angrily tells them they could have just quit the show.
- A Villain of the Week in Totally Spies! is a former model who lost her leg in a photoshoot with a lion. She decides to take over the fashion industry using a machine to swap body parts between women (such as Clover's legs and Sam's teeth) and create an army of perfect models. Sam asks why she didn't just use the machine to get herself a new leg instead.
- Penn Jillette has stated that the Greatest E-mail he ever sent from a text-to-impact ratio was when he was one of the few who proofread Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion before publication. He came to a part of the manuscript when Dawkins quoted an American hater of his calling him "a cheese eater!", and Dawkins then spent two-and-a-half page trying to deconstruct how being a cheese eater could be a bad thing, where cheese was manufactured in America and if there was some correlation with that area and atheism. Penn's immediate realisation and comment?
Richard! RATS LIKE CHEEESE! / Love, Penn.
- 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.
- From the set of The Lord of the Rings: "Why don't I just zap them?" "Be-because your batteries are low. You can't get any AA's in the city. You've tried, but... gone to every chemist in the city but none of them have AA batteries."
- A Non-verbal example of this comes from the writings of Simplicius of Cilica, regarding an Ancient Greek philosophical debate. One of Zeno's Paradoxes states that it's actually impossible to leave a room, since first you have to get halfway to the door, then a quarter of the way to the door, then an eighth of the way, etc., getting very close but never actually being able to leave (Greek Mathematics didn't have the concept of zero). While other logicians proposed more intricate responses to the paradox, Diogenes of Sinope (appropriately, one of the founders of Cynic philosophy) simply got up and walked out of the room. Strictly speaking, not the correct way to refute a Logical Paradox, but it's hard to argue with the result. One interpretation is that the paradox was meant to show that reality is an illusion, since one can physically appear to do what is logically impossible.
- In the lead-up to World War II, a visiting British politician asked Hitler how he thought the English should respond to the situation in India. Hitler's advice: "Shoot Gandhi."
- The NSA scandal in 2013 has made many Conspiracy Theorists believe that the government can spy on anyone at anytime through the internet, much like they did in a certain Orwellian novel. Those who state the simple solution that debunks this - it's rather easy to unplug the computer - are often scorned.
- Related to this is the manner in which computers which have to really be secure are protected from hackers: not by ridiculously sophisticated protection software, but simply air gapping them and not having a wireless capability.
- The only data transfer method that can't be remotely hacked is physically taking the hard drive to the location.
- Similarly, for added security against hackers using webcams to spy on people, many webcams come with manual shutters or physical switches to disconnect them, and lacking those you can just put a piece of tape over the lens like former FBI director James Comey admitted to doing. Go ahead and try to hack through electrical tape. We'll wait.
- Speaking of conspiracy theories, many of them are dependent on ignoring the people stating the simple solution. For example, the Flat Earth theory has convoluted solutions for why the horizon exists, why you can see the curve at sufficient heights, why you can fly around the Earth, you name it. The simple solution of "Maybe the Earth isn't flat?" will be entirely ignored.