There Is No Kill Like Overkill

aka: Theres No Kill Like Overkill

"Maxim #37: There is no "overkill". There is only "open fire" and "I need to reload."
Schlock Mercenary, "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries"

There are some opponents you want to defeat. There are some opponents you want to kill. Then there are the opponents whom you're not satisfied with until you've stabbed them, shot them, blown them up, unleashed the hounds on them, electrocuted them, irradiated them, jumped up and down on them, and then shot the remains into space on a rocket full of time bombs.

This trope comes in three categories (with some overlap): the killer either loves violence for its own sake, or wishes to express dislike for the target, or is Genre Savvy enough (usually due to fighting The Juggernaut or an Implacable Man) to know that It's the Only Way to Be Sure. There Is No Kill Like Overkill may be played for comedy or for drama. If the former, another character may remark "I think he's dead" near the end of the process.

May be employed successfully: see No One Could Survive That. Unfortunately often leads to Never Found the Body, thus setting up Only Mostly Dead or Unexplained Recovery. Joker Immunity means even overkill is useless, but even that is better than a No Sell.

Much, much more common in fiction (especially of the 'revenge fantasy' type) than in Real Life violence. To a strategist, overkill is Awesome but Impractical because the risk of enemy survival is vastly outweighed by the certainty that you're spending a fortune in time, materiel and (usually) manpower to ensure the enemy's death. The weaker and less numerous the target, the more wasteful overkill is.

For common forms of overkill, see Multi-Directional Barrage, Beam Spam, More Dakka, Multiple Gunshot Death, and/or Macross Missile Massacre. For situations in which the overkill destroys the whole point of the combat, see Pyrrhic Victory. Compare Chunky Salsa Rule, Rasputinian Death, Critical Existence Failure, Videogame Cruelty Potential, Surplus Damage Bonus, Disproportionate Retribution, and Deader Than Dead: contrast Cherry Tapping and Once Is Not Enough. Characters who don't have enough overkill at their disposal just might resort to crossing the Godzilla Threshold instead.


Alternative Title(s):

No Kill Like Overkill, There Is No Kill Like An Overkill, Theres No Kill Like Overkill