"Come on, look at me! No plan, no backup, no weapons worth a damn, oh, and something else I don't have: anything to lose! So, if you're sitting up there in your silly little space ships with all your silly little guns, and you've got any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight, just remember who's standing in your way! Remember every black day I ever stopped you, and then, and then, do the smart thing! (Beat
) Let somebody else try first."
This is where a combatant would be overwhelmed in five minutes if the battle started — but it doesn't
start because nobody on the stronger side wants to go first and be the one who gets killed in the process of bringing the target down
Note that, from a martial ethics perspective, it is an extremely shameful thing for this to happen, as it means that every single one of the (non-)attackers has shown cowardice in front of his comrades. Samurai in particular were specifically conditioned to enter battle with an "I am already dead" mindset, and a strong tendency for sacrifice in the name of the group: if they were to hesitate in such a situation, they wouldn't be able to live with themselves afterwards, so it's lose-lose.
If done right, some fans
find these to be Awesome Moments
of Terror Hero
. A Sister Trope
to Peace Through Superior Firepower
, To Win Without Fighting
and Who Will Bell the Cat?
. Bystander Syndrome
covers non-combat examples where no individual in a group wants to be the one to step up.
open/close all folders
- The Punisher: Frank, having finally dispatched Mama Gucci's hitman the Russian, shows up on her doorstep still bruised and bleeding holding the Russian's decapitated head aloft demanding "Is that the best you could do?". Her assembled mooks drop their guns as one and run away, leaving Frank to kill Gucci.
- The Fifth Element
- A movie called Kuffs has this exchange:
Kuffs and Bukovsky, armed with pump shotguns, are facing about a dozen hoods in the film's climactic confrontation
Unidentified Hood: It's a twelve-gauge pump, boys. He's only got three shots. They can't get us all!
He reaches for his gun, Ted blows him away
George Kuffs: gestures to dead hood Well, now we know he can add...
gestures to Ted
George Kuffs: And he can subtract. So who wants to be next here?
- Prize of Gor has a subversion. Gor has Fantasy Gun Control so there are no native guns; a person from our world has brought some though. Once the natives understand the power of the gun, and after a battle where most of the bullets are used up, one gets his hands on the one gun with one bullet left in it. He says that with it he's the most powerful man on Gor and everyone should obey him; another points out that as soon as he shoots the weapon he'll have nothing, so he basically can't force anyone to do anything even though he has it.
Live Action TV
- In Dragon Quest VIII, you have the option at the start of combat to try to intimidate your opponents. If you are much higher level than them, they'll run away immediately.
- Maytag uses this method to defeat a whole gang in Chapter 2 of Flipside.
- Girl Genius has a chapter called "Gil deals with it". Therein, Gil deals with an entire army of war clanks using a single Death Ray that takes out one machine with each shot. It takes him two shots to convince the enemy that he "did not get lucky".
- Afterwards, Gil is looking for the army's commander. One guy says the commander is dead; his second- and third-in command are also toast. He's the fourth, the highest-ranking survivor. Then he tries to kill Gil. A Jagermonster stabs him, then asks, "Who else vants to be promoted?"
Anyone else want to give examples?
- After the Battle of Changban in 208, Zhang Fei covered Liu Bei's escape by standing on the opposite side of a river from Cao Cao's forces and challenging them to single combat. No one dared.
- Almost every land battle ever fought is a partial example of this. "Demoralization" (scaring the heck out of them, to put it roughly) does more damage to an army than physical casualties and much of land war is a contest in intimidation. Sea battles are different because it is less easy to run away at sea. At the same time sea battles can also be victories of intimidation.