The Easy Way or the Hard Way
A Stock Phrase. The easy way is usually giving in, and the hard way usually involves some kind of violence or torment. A popular variation for badasses is "We can do this the easy way or the really easy way." Offering two variations of "hard way" and no "easy way" or even "the fun way" is also common, as is stopping mid-sentence to "remember" that there isn't actually a choice being offered. See also The Window or the Stairs for a subversion where the "easy way" is worse than the "hard way". If the "easy way" turns out to be the same as the "hard way", that's Morton's Fork.
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- In the X-Men storyline "Curse of the Mutants", a vampirised Wolverine is leading Dracula's son's army against the X-Men, and announces that all the mutants have the option of following Cyclops over a cliff or joining the vampires.
Wolverine: But not you, Slim. Everybody else gets to choose the hard way or the easy way. But I've taken the liberty of making that choice for you. [Pops claws] Guess which choice I picked.
- Ultra Magnus used to say a variant of this whenever he was about to arrest someone. His way, or the hard way. Either way, things would usually end with whoever he said it to being subdued. It was mocked by the Combaticons at one point, as they escaped from him.
Onslaught: Tell me, does that ever work?
- In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover there's a variation. The Trans-Galactic Republic offers its advanced technology to the Citadel races in limited form to help fend off the Reapers. However, such aid is distributed either the way the giver wants or not at all—the "hard way" being "Have fun while the Reapers destroy you because you wouldn't take help on our terms." It's not the Trans-Galactic Republic threatening the hard way consequences directly, but they might as well have. In the sequel Origins it's played straight. Garrus Vakarian engages in some Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique after noting that as a Spectre-in-all-but-name, he is not bound to the usual set of rules and thus either the suspect can talk or deal with less-pleasant consequences.
Films — Animation
- Parodied in Osmosis Jones: Some cops go a sleazy bar, and the lead one announces, "We can make this easy... or hard." One cop behind him will apparently settle for otherwise, saying "Or, somewhere in between. Like, semi-easy, or medium hard," causing the lead cop to admonish him. "You don't get to say that!"
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The Colonel: You can break easy, mustang, or you can break hard.
- In The LEGO Movie, Bad Cop doesn't even get to finish his sentence.
Bad Cop: Look, everybody, we can do this the easy way, or we can do it —
Wyldstyle: GO, RUN!
Bad Cop: They took the hard way! Fire! Fire!
Films — Live-Action
- Raising Arizona when Gale takes the baby from H.I.: "Let's go hard or easy, H.I." It goes hard, but their fight is comically absurd.
- Inverted in Back to the Future Part II. Biff's Mooks say this to Marty — "the easy way" is being knocked on the head.
- Chain Lightning
Lt. Col. Brennan: How do you want it, Willis, the easy way or the hard way?
- Excess Baggage
Vincent: We can do this the easy way or the hard way.
Emily: What's the hard way?
Vincent: It's harder... it's harder than the easy way. That's what I know.
- Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
Det. Roland Castlebeck: The easy way or the hard way, Raines. Easy way or the hard way.
- Hidden Agenda
Sam Turgenson: We can do this the easy way or the hard way.
Jason Price: Is that pillow talk, Sam?!
- One of many running gags in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka is the two henchmen told that there's "two ways to leave. The stairs or the window." When they choose the stairs, they are always thrown down them, til the end, when one exasperated henchman jumps out the window to his death. Turns out the other option in that instance was the freight elevator.
- Not exactly the same, but close, is RoboCop and the recurring phrase "Dead or alive, you are coming with me."
- Tooth & Nail
Jackal: We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. I don't really care which way, but by sunrise I'm gonna be gnawing on your bones!
- A variant appears in The Rundown. The Rock's character, a "retrieval expert" by the name of Beck, gives the people he deals with two options. Option A is shutting up and doing what Beck says. If Option B is chosen, Beck makes them do whatever was outlined in Option A, usually by kicking their ass. And no, you don't get an Option C.
- In the 45-minute video Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters, a young man is threatened by a Maryland State Trooper to either "make it easy on himself" by consenting to a search of his car, or he can "make it hard on himself" (by refusing). They show two versions of the event: the guy stands on his rights, refuses the search, and gets only a traffic ticket; the guy lets the cop search, with him and all of the passengers in the car end up going to jail for possession of drugs. (Doesn't mention if he still gets the traffic ticket for which he was pulled over.)
- Variant in The Colour of Magic T.V. adaption; it features a part in which Rincewind and Twoflower are hiding under a sacrificial pyre from wizards from the Unseen University attempting to drag Rincewind back. They tell him that he can go the easy way or the very easy way. The easy way being that he comes out and goes along with them, the very easy way being that they light the pyre with him still under it.
- A fancy-sounding version in The Lord of the Rings from Saruman.
I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain!
- Reign of Fire. An American team of dragonslayers turns up at the protagonist's base with an armoured convoy, asking for shelter and refueling time. He refuses. As the convoy's firepower vastly outweighs his, the American just says quietly, "Don't be a foooool. We can do this easy, or we can do this real easy."
- The Avengers (2012). Black Widow is trying to recruit Bruce Banner for S.H.I.E.L.D. At one point Banner appears to lose his temper, causing her to draw a pistol in his face.
Banner: Sorry, I just wanted to see how you'd react. Why don't we do this the easy way, where you don't use that and the other guy doesn't make a mess.
- Played with a few times in Discworld books.
"I want it stopped. And I want it stopped the hard way."
- In The Fifth Elephant, somebody trying to sneak into a town will corner a guard and mention that this can be done the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is for the guard to ignore them, the hard way... is for the person to leave and try to find another way in.
- In the same book, another easy way turns out to involve using wolves to pull a sled.
- A more serious instance, from Small Gods:
"You want me to kill all the inquisitors? Right!"
"No. That's the easy way. I want as few deaths as possible."
Granny Weatherwax: And the hard way's hard, but it's not half so hard as the easy way.
- Another serious example, from Carpe Jugulum, about the nature of good and evil:
Granny Weatherwax: So all I'm really here for, d'you see, is to see whether you get justice or mercy... So here's my offer, you see. You hand back Magrat and the baby and we'll chop your heads off.
- Invoked in all but name, also from Carpe Jugulum:
The Count: And that's what you call justice, is it?
Granny Weatherwax: No, that's what I call mercy.
- And another in Making Money when Cosmo offers Moist a bribe to give up. After Moist refuses, he explains that giving him the opportunity to surrender was, for Cosmo, doing it the hard way.
- Provost's Dog: Jokingly used by the friend of Beka (both of them are Provost's Guards, or protopolice) to get her to come to a breakfast. Quickly followed by I Always Wanted to Say That.
- 30 Rock, episode "Tracy Does Conan".
Jack: Conan, this is important to me. So, we can either do this the easy way or the hard way.
- The A-Team, episode "Steel".
Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith: There are two ways we can do this: the easy way and the hard way. In a few minutes my friends and I are going to come down on you like your worst nightmare. You're gonna wish the Earth had opened up and swallowed you whole.
Bad guy: What's the easy way?
Hannibal: That was the easy way.
- Bad Girls, episode "Battle Lines".
Yvonne Atkins: Nah, I just feel its about time you picked on someone your own size. So what's it going to be, Al? The easy way, or the hard way?
- Frequently played around with, as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "We can do this the hard way, or... actually, there's just the hard way."
Buffy: There's two ways this can end. And right now, I think they're both going to hurt.
- From "Seeing Red"
Faith: You wanna listen or you wanna die?
- In "Enemies" after the requisite tongue-fest and attempted murder Faith finally gets Angelus pinned beneath her.
Angelus: Long as you're there, I mostly want you to wriggle.
Vampire: What were my choices again?
- In "All The Way" Giles says this to a vampire who's holding Dawn hostage. Suddenly lights come on to reveal they're surrounded by vampires.
"We can do this the hard way, or the fatal way."
- Riley threatening Spike in "As You Were".
Balthazar: THERE IS ONE DEAL! YOU WILL DIE QUICKLY, OR YOU WILL DIE SLOWLY!
- In "Bad Girls", No Indoor Voice villain Balthazar has captured Wesley and Giles. Wesley suggests a Hostage for MacGuffin deal. Giles suggests Take Me Instead. Balthazar is not impressed.
"There's two ways we can do this: the easy way, or I cut you."
- Xander delivers the line straight in "Never Leave Me", then worries after that it was too cliche, as he's playing Good Cop/Bad Cop at the time.
- Or Fred in spinoff Angel
- Chuck, episode "Chuck Versus the Marlin".
John Casey: (to Lester and Jeff) We could do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is I shove his [Chuck's] foot up your ass.
Jeff: What's the hard way?
John Casey: I use my foot!
- In the Doctor Who serial "The Sun Makers", the Doctor is threatened by a revolutionary who suspects him of being a spy.
Mandrel: Now listen, Doctor. We can either do this the easy way -
Doctor: "Or we can do it the hard way", I've heard that one too. (gets punched)
- Hercules The Legendary Journeys, episode "My Best Girl's Wedding".
Hercules: (facing group of thugs) Okay, guys, look, we can do this the hard way or we can do this the easy way. (thugs prepare to attack him) Nobody ever wants to do it the easy way.
- How I Met Your Mother, episode "Matchmaker".
Ellen: You wanna do this the easy way or the hard way?
Barney: What's the hard way? Security roughs me up and tosses me out?
Ellen: No. That's the easy way. The hard way is that I slap the crap out of you myself.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- Person of Interest. In "Booked Solid" Reese has been captured by a government hitman who wants to know who he's working for.
Hersh: This can go one of two ways.Reese: Don't suppose one of those ways involves me walking out of here? [Hersh shoves him] Didn't think so.
- At the start of "Honey," Mariah Carey, playing a captured spy, gets this choice.
- Played with in Serious Sam, when adressing a group of baddies in a cutscene.
- Played with in Bastion:"There's only one way into Cinderbrick Fort." The Kid comes crashing down into the level. "The Hard Way."
- In Batman: Arkham Origins, at the end of a side quest Batman confronts Roman Sionis in a church.
Batman: One way or another, I'm taking you in. Now we can do this the easy way, or the—Black Mask: Yeah, yeah, or the hard way. But I think you know my choice.
- Vi in League of Legends has this as one of her jokes.
Vi: We can either do this the hard way, or... Oh wait, no. There's just the hard way.
- In episode 4 of the semi-interactive Flash cartoon 3|Way, to deal with some mooks you are given the choice between "the easy way... or the sleazy way." The easy way is violence; since this is a pornographic series, you can guess what's the sleazy way.
- Combined with Fetish Fuel in this strip◊.
- Again in this strip◊.
- Wanda's philosophy is that there are three ways to proceed: the easy way, the hard way, and the very hard way. The easy way is when you know what your Fate is and follow it, because this means that things will push you in the way you were already going. The hard way is when you don't know what your Fate is, as you then have no choice but to try things at random until Fate stops punishing you for going in the wrong directions. The really hard way is when you know your Fate and try to fight it, this results in continuous torment as the universe tries to Railroad you back onto your Fated path.
- Jillian once swore to always take the hard way. And she does. Boy, does she!
- The Order of the Stick
Roy Greenhilt: Hey gnome! There are two ways this can go down: the easy way or the hard way.
Leeky Windstaff: Druids always pick the hard way; it encourages natural selection.
- Also, strip #442 is titled "We Can Do This the Easy Way..."
- Mocked in Smash Comics, one of the filler comics for Knights of the Old Coding. Ganondorf asks Marth and Jigglypuff if they want to do this the easy way or the hard way. He then Shadowkicks them before they can answer, stating "the hard way it is." When Marth points out that he hadn't said anything yet, Ganondorf admits that he's impatient.
- In this strip of Weregeek. Not that it worked too well.
- Marsh Rocket: Although not explicitly stated, it's implied here.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: When the Butanian dragons refuse to side with Riboflavin against Voluptua, his response is, "A pity. I guess I'll have to do this the messy way after all. And I must admit... that will be more fun!!!" He then starts blasting everything in sight with a BFG.
- Schlock Mercenary had a discussion on which way things will go. Kevyn thinks the easy way is usually mined, Petey thinks it's an optimistic view.
- In Too Much Information, when Ace is talking to Death, she says "We can do this the easy way or the hard way. And lucky for you, the easy way would ruin my manicure."
- Secret Squirrel says this to rogue panda One Ton, who's just eaten a clove of garlic. "One Ton choose... HAAAAAAARD!"
- In King of the Hill, Hank, Bill, and Boomhauer grabbed Dale if they want to handle this the easy way or the hard way. "Do it the hard way."
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
"Now Gary, we can do this the hard way or the easy way. Or the medium way. Or the semi-medium-easy-hard way. Or the sort of hard with a touch of awkward-easy-difficult-challenging way."
- In Transformers Animated, Optimus gives the speech to a speeding motorist... who turns out to be another Transformer, specifically Lockdown.
- Played with in the Looney Tunes short Operation: Rabbit. After Bugs Bunny refuses Wile E. Coyote's invitation to give up willingly, Wile E. muses, "Why do they always want to do it the hard way?"
- The Penguins of Madagascar
Skipper: We can do this the easy way, or we can... (Archer escapes) Oh, have the decency to let me finish!
- "Popcorn Panic": "We can do this the easy way, or we can do this Rico's way."
- When the penguins faced an outlaw raccoon named The Archer, Skipper doesn't even get to finish the phrase.
- In Wakfu season 2 episode 2, Remington Smisse introduces himself to Evangelyne this way, with rhyming to boot.
Remington: And there are only two ways out:
the good one, smooth and easy,
or mine, much more painful and deadly.
- The Booty Warrior from The Boondocks. Inspired by a true story.
- In the Johnny Bravo episode where he confronts the guy who stole his blanket he says something along the lines of "We can do this the hard way or the...other way that's even harder, just step back 'cuz I'm gonna hurt you man."
- Done in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when Rainbow Dash is unable to coax Pinkie Pie into going to Sweet Apple Acres with her. She ends up dragging Pinkie across town by the tail.
Rainbow Dash: Oh you wanna do this the hard way?! We'll do this the hard way!
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
Raphael: We can do this the easy way, or how I like it: the hard way.
- Access to Tiberius's hilltop villa on Capri was via a winding path that ran along a steep cliff. Visitors knew that there were two ways off the island: being escorted back down the path to the dock (if you pleased the emperor), or suffering an "accident" as you walked along the clifftop (if you did not).