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Violence Is the Only Option
"I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence."

Fights are dramatic. There's no question about that. That's why most action-based series will inevitably end with a fight. After all, what fun is it if The Hero and the Big Bad resolve their differences with an armistice, a few kind words and a handshake? Even the most idealistic of All Loving Heroes will have to beat the evil out of them first before they can Save the Villain.

For that very reason, whenever the heroes try to resolve their situation through diplomatic or other peaceful means, things will inevitably go wrong. Either it's a trick by the villains to lure the heroes into an ambush in a vulnerable position, or negotiations will break down and make violence the only option. Even if by some miracle peace is achieved, it's only because an even more evil threat forces both sides to ally against it.

This can lead to the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that Violence Really Is the Answer. Moral Guardians like to complain about this trope.

In Video Games, this often becomes Stupidity Is the Only Option as the villain goes "Oh, let's try diplomacy, why don't you come to the heart of our kingdom surrounded by our armed guards and we'll talk! Be sure not to bring weapons."

In most Tabletop RPGs, players can use diplomacy skills, though this is subject to DM fiat. The DM may still fudge the rolls or veto the outcome if he wants a certain situation to end in violence. Sometimes some factions can't even be negotiated with.

Contrast To Win Without Fighting, Talking the Monster to Death, and Sheathe Your Sword, and compare Sedgwick Speech, RPGs Equal Combat. Not to be confused with Murder Is the Best Solution, where violence is the first resort, without considering other options.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • Similar to the Western comics example below, most Shonen Jump manga have this as the only real and sensible option to most every problem.
  • For Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the solution to any problem is to blast whatever-it-is in the face with powerful magic attacks. Want to bring your opponent to the light? Trounce her and make friends! Trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine? Manifest a huge beam sword and blow the illusion away! Need to save someone who's possessed by an evil book? Go all out and it'll work itself out. Then blow up the book. Is your adoptive daughter magically powered up, desperately confused and on a rampage? Eh, blast her. Your weapon can't kill anyone anyway. This is actually Nanoha's way of achieving a peaceful solution: Try to talk it out and if they refuse blow the hell out of the enemy so they're in no condition to do anything but talk it out.
  • In Angel Densetsu, while the protagonist is a bit scary he's an All-Loving Hero. In contrast the two normal-looking, cute girls that got a crush on him deal with more or less anything via high kicks to the face. Lampshaded when Yuji tries to get Kitano out of trouble by the only way he knows how: beating people up (in that case, the trope was averted, finesse was actually needed). And again when Leo makes a mess and forces Kitano and Ikuno to fight, right until the end the trope seemed averted, but then it actually works and it's played straight.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: Negi really does do his best to talk all his opponents down first. Even the demon lord who turned his village to stone. The two most notable however are Chao and Fate. One is the Big Bad. The other is suspected to have refused to talk it out or reveal their motives in order to prepare Negi for the other, who despite his anti villainy of later chapters is rather quiet about how 'destroy the world' and 'save the world' fit onto the same schedule properly.
  • Freezing: Satellizer doesn't really care about morals or insubordination. Her response to arrogant upperclassmen and pandoras is to simply beat the crap out of them, especially if they mess with her limiter. It's explained that she has a psychological need to fight, due to some issues.
  • Deconstructed in the first season of Gundam 00 where the Celestial Being seems to embrace this trope since they realized that the endless conflicts throughout the history needs to be forcibly eradicated with their own weapons.

    Comics 

  • Comics in general use violence because it tends to make for exciting stories. The whole situation is summed up in an episode of The Young Ones, where Vyvyan points out how boring most comics would be in a world with no conflict:
    Vyvyan: Exciting new story: "Batman gooses The Joker's crack!"
  • Subverted in an early storyline of The Authority comic: after confronting the Mad Scientist who devasted several major cities with his army of supers, the Authority reach a compromise with him and enlist him in the reconstruction effort (the reader of course never sees him again). Supposedly a metaphor for how Western democracies cut deals with vicious third world dictators.
  • The Punisher, violence is the only way he knows how to solve anything. Of course, the main problem he's usually trying to solve is "too many criminals are still sucking oxygen".
  • Over and over again in World War Hulk. Absolutely nothing deters Hulk from his rampage except overwhelming force. The characters who look for some nonviolent solution and/or appeal to The Power of Friendship get nowhere and suffer just as much as the ones who go on the offensive from the very beginning.
    • Averted in World War Hulk: X-men where, after three issues of Hulk pounding on the entire X-family, Mercury, a member of the New X-men junior squad shows Hulk the graves of all the mutants killed just in the short time Hulk was off planet. In the end, Hulk accepts her plea to leave them alone, concluding that Xavier is in his own, personal hell already.
  • A common thing in the Brazilian comic Monica's Gang (bordering Boring Invincible Hero) is basically every villain being defeated by the protagonist - specifically, her beating him to pulp, usually with her plush bunny.

    Film 

  • Subverted in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides when Jack Sparrow suggests to the crowd of pirates and marines to sit back and watch as Barbossa and Blackbeard duke it out, as they're the only ones who really want the other dead. Both captains then demand their crew fight it out.
  • Used in most of the Star Trek movies, except I and IV.
    • Parodied in the comedy song, Star Trekkin. Sing it in your best Kirk:
    "Ah, we come in peace!/shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men!"
    • VI has this as part of its theme. Specifically, that violence has been the only option for so long between the Klingons and the Federation that there are people on both sides willing to violently betray their own leadership to keep it that way.
  • Star Wars:
    • The opening of The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are there for negotiations. The Federation floods the room with poison gas and sends a half dozen battle droids.
    • Also in Episode 1, Padme Amidala tries to go before the Senate to stop an invasion/genocide taking place on her planet. When they want to put it off for a committee to examine she votes the Chancellor out of office and returns to take Naboo back by force.
    • In Attack of the Clones Padme Amidala attempts to negotiate with Dooku to free Obi-Wan. Instead she, Anakin, and Obi-Wan are all thrown into an arena to be killed for the entertainment of the masses. They got away of course, but this ended up beginning the Clone Wars that would go on for three years and would end with the rise of The Empire we all know and love.
    • Also in Episode 2, Anakin lampshades the Jedi propensity for violence with the Unusual Euphemism of "Aggressive Negotiations", i.e. negotiations with a lightsaber.
    • The very premise of the Clone Wars has the Senate voting to give the Chancellor "Emergency Powers" to declare war on the Separatists. There is no mention of attempts at diplomacy, and neither the Separatists nor the Republic seem to actually want anything other than to go to war. That's because The Man Behind the Man keeps fanning the flames of war.
    • There are subtle hints that previous attempts at peace have failed, (like the beginning of the first movie) but that Palpatine has been sabotaging everything before it can get anywhere.
  • The War Of The Worlds (1953) film. Humans try twice to establish peaceful contact with the Martians: three men waving a white flag, and a priest carrying a Bible. They all end up the same way: reduced to dust by a Martian heat ray.
    • One of the few things the film shares with the original story, as the first people to be killed by the Martians were a group of people attempting the same "peaceful contact" thing, only to receive a face full of Death Ray.
  • Mars Attacks! parodied this three times. Bonus points for translation machines saying "We come in peace!"
    • During their initial landing, the Martians massacre most of the humans present to greet them.
    • When they appear before the U.S. Congress "to apologize", they wipe out everyone present.
    • During a meeting to discuss peace with the French government... yeah, you guessed it.
  • Avatar. All negotiations fail before they even begin, and the only solution is to have a big battle scene (which doesn't even work until Gaia's Vengeance arrives). The movie is set decades after first contact though, and initial peaceful relations had more or less completely fallen apart before this story begins.
  • Independence Day and Rambo (2008) both use this as their main point in dealing with a world full of bad people.

    Literature 

  • Deconstructed in Animorphs. Is violence really the only option? At first glance, it seems that it is: Yeerks are stealing bodies by force and the kids have to stop them. But as the kids learn, Yeerks need bodies to properly live, and it's possible for the Yeerk and the host to have a symbiotic relationship. The problem is most hosts would resist infestation, which necessitates taking hosts by force. Cassie often tries to convince Yeerks that symbiotism is the best solution - and it works sometimes.
  • Averted in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Violence is the option only of the villains, who are usually incompetent, and are defeated by the non violent hero.
    • Terminus Mayor Salvor Hardin is often quoted as saying "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent man." Needless to say (so we say it anyway), the man was a Chessmaster.
    • Then played shockingly straight in a later story. Bayta realizes who The Mule really was, and the only way to stop him was to kill a researcher before he revealed what he learned.
      • What's more, in retrospect for the entire series, that book's ending was almost a Shaggy Dog Story. The purposes the violence served were to keep information from the reader, and to explore the puzzle of why somebody would rationally feel forced to commit the act. Given who was in the vicinity, and what they'd already have known, the act probably didn't solve anything in-universe.
  • Subverted in Rainbow Six. After three confrontations with terrorists that refuse to negotiate or surrender, resulting in a Kill 'em All for each group of baddies, the fourth one manages to end with some of them being talked into giving themselves up rather than having to be gunned down.
  • Lee Child's character Reacher often gets into situations where violence is the only option. Just as well he's six foot five, built like a brick shithouse, well armed and has no sense of remorse, really.

     Live Action Television  

  • An example of "trick by the villains to lure the heroes into an ambush": The 1970s Battlestar Galactica series. After a thousand year war, the 12 Colonies sent off their entire fleet of Battlestars to a diplomatic meeting with the Cylons, leaving the Colonies completely defenseless. The Council insisted that the fleet not prepare for combat in any way, leaving it defenseless as well. Naturally, the Cylons take advantage of this grotesque stupidity to wipe out both the Colonies and almost all of the Battlestars. It kind of makes you wonder how the Colonies survived the thousand year war.
    • That's because Adar foolishly decides to trust Baltar's claims that the Cylons only want peace. When they detect thousands of Cylon raiders heading towards the fleet, Adama suggests sending out a fighter escort, just in case. Baltar shuts him down, claiming that it would be misconstrued.
  • In the pilot for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Earth is slowly rebuilding and gladly accepts Princess Ardala's offer of peace and gifts. Eventually, this trope comes into play, as she is preparing for an invasion.
  • Memorably subverted in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, "Year of Hell". The two-parter starts with Voyager running into a suicidally overconfident alien ship which demands they turn around without any explanation. Voyager easily destroys the ship, and heads deeper into the territory to figure out what's going on. When the Reset Button is pressed at the end of the second part, the scenario plays out again- except this time the alien ship greets them pleasantly, warns them that a war is going on, gives them a map of the disputed territory and they leave on amicable terms. Considering how comparatively easy that was, it's a little strange why violence seems to be the first resort for most species in the Delta Quadrant.
    • It's clear that the Krenim were itching to take back what they assumed was theirs, so posturing is a natural side effect.
  • Goes without saying in Toku, but special mention goes to Kamen Rider Faiz, where any attempts to solve the conflict the protagonists have with each other must happen through a fight. Overlaps with Conflict Ball.
  • Farscape Peacekeeper Wars runs on this. The heroes try to run away, then they try to help the bad guys negotiate, but finally, despite all of Crichton's protests, the only way to force the bad guys into an armistice is by launching a wormhole weapon that threatens to destroy the entire universe (getting as far as destroying all the bad guys' warships before it's stopped.)
  • The trope can be summed up in three words: The War Doctor. This is the man who saw no other way but to steal and detonate The Moment, and watch as Gallifrey burned to ash. Except...we later find out that he froze the planet and tucked it away in a pocket dimension.
    • Not quite. The War Doctor had spent possibly hundreds of years fighting against Daleks, omnicidal cyborgs that want to destroy all non-Daleks across the universe, in every universe, in every dimension. Theyre only a little worse than the Time Lords who have immortality and nearly omnipotent technology but only use it for their own race's benefit. By the point where he is about to use the Moment, the Time War is destroying Time and Space, and the only choice seems to destroy both races.

    Mythology 

  • The original legend of King Arthur and Medred (commonly, Mordred) at the Battle of Camlann involves Arthur's and Medred's armies poised on the field. At first, it seems that the two leaders will be able to negotiate a peaceful resolution... then an adder spooks a soldier on one side into drawing his sword to kill it; thus causing a chain reaction that leads to everyone on both sides drawing swords, and they end up going to war.
    • In the "finalized" Le Morte d'Arthur of Sir Thomas Malory, the justification is that due to the mutual lack of trust, both Arthur and his son, Medred / Mordrednote , had given orders to their army to attack "at the sight of a naked blade."
      • Bear in mind also the symbolic meaning of the serpent to the (almost invariably) Western, Christian reader of the original...
    • This also occurs in "The Tale of King Arthur and Emperor Lucius", where one of Arthur's knights beheads a Roman knight during peace talks. And it was the Arthurian knight's fault in the first place.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Subverted and justified often, as the easiest solutions to most problems are to A:Fire the offender in question. B:Offer money and or some special perk to the offender in question. C:Quit and go to another promotion in the event you do not have the power to do so. The problem facing general managers in wrestling is that violence is often the most lucrative solution. Those pay per views aren't going to pay for themselves! Thus when a GM does take the easy option, he is often overruled by a higher authority and forced to book a match.
  • On the opposite side of the spectrum, sometimes heel wrestler actions go so far outside of the realm of cheating and poor sportsmanship that they end up being plain criminal and deserving of at least a trial. The baby faces will, 9 times out of 10, decline to press charges, preferring to simply get a chance to defeat their tormentors in the ring.
  • And sometimes, the answer to the non violent solution to some is violence, such as when Eddie Gilbert tried to run over Jerry Lawler in a parking lot after his brother Doug had been "fired" from the promotion. Nope, just firing Eddie as well wouldn't be enough.
  • Rikishi tried to run over "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for the The Rock. Their solution, beat up Rikishi. This one was a little better than most as it turned out Triple H was behind it but since no one knew ahead of time, nor simply put Triple H in jail, it still fits.
  • Cibernético tried to kill Muerte Cibernética for good by his casket into an active volcano! After somehow escaping, all Cibernética was content to just keep wrestling for AAA.
  • Samoa Joe made more progress toward breaking up Special K by simply talking to Hydro than everyone else in Ring of Honor did by fighting them.
  • Ultimately, OVW dealt with Boogeyman by simply giving him a spot on the roster, after everything else they tried to keep him away failed. Here it was more like "setting aside time for him to do violence" was the only option.
  • So you're being accused of fathering a child out of wedlock with a drunken crackhead. While most people would just get the paternity test, AJ Styles's first step to rectifying the issue was to challenge one of his accusers in a match and then take the test if he won, that is he'd admit to charges of being the father if he couldn't beat Christopher Daniels...it was TNA

     Tabletop Games 
  • To say that this trope generally applies in the Warhammer 40,000 world is a bit like saying that the sun is hot—it's technically correct, but it fails to convey the sheer magnitude of the situation.
    • Special mention must be given to da Orks however, an entire species that has this trope programmed into their very biology, who solve everything via liberal use of dakka and/or choppa, and if it isn't solved, well, that just means more fighting. WAAAGH!
    • To elaborate even further, to Orks, violence isn't so much a way of settling differences (but that too) as it is a social skill. Someone giving you lip? Whack him in the head with the business end of a massive axe (he'll survive). Are you having a race? Consider shooting at the other contestants with whatever firearm you have at hand (they nearly always have one), it's pretty much considered polite (don't you dare hit their vehicle though, that's likely to make them go berserk - they're also likely to survive, regardless of what weapon you have "on hand"). Did a fellow ork make a stupid comment? Crush his entire body in your mechanical claw/backhand him with enough force to knock over a truck (he'll probably survive). An ork that is run over in a race by a multi-ton halftrack is likely to roll around on the ground, writhing in laughter.
    • It's somewhat telling that the Tau are the only major race in the entire setting to avert this in any long-term capacity, being notable for happily employing translators and willing to conduct negotiations that range beyond "Get out of the way, or kill yourself before we do." They were put in because of outcry for an actually altruistic race; two editions later, the NEW cries that they were too Animesque and borderline Mary Sue in how great their Greater Good was, their new codex added many more implications of forced sterility and/or concentration camps for "enlightened" other races. With the out that everything in the book is written from the viewpoint of Imperial Propaganda.
  • Same goes with pretty much every Paranoia game. You're usually playing a member of a Troubleshooter team, and a Troubleshooter's job is to find trouble and shoot it. Oh, and speaking of trouble, see those teammates of yours..?
    • It's been said that the closest thing Paranoia has to an ideal mission end is to be the only survivor. That way, you can assign all the blame to everyone else and no one can contradict you.
  • Averted in 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons with the "Diplomancer" approach, which takes advantage of the flat difficulties set for Diplomacy checks to reduce someone's hostility towards you - a high-level bard can make anything completely indifferent to his presence quite rapidly. This is why DM fiat isn't always a bad thing.
    • Indifferent?! A properly tweaked Diplomancer can turn any hostile intelligent being in helpful friends in 9 seconds flat, or even fanatical followers willing to sacrifice themselves to the mere word of the diplomancer, if tweaking is taken far enough.
    • The rules that allow this annoyed Rich Burlew enough that he did an extensive rewrite of the Diplomacy skill.
  • In Exalted, due to the difference in timescale between Social and physical combat (roughly, one 'tick' of social is equivalent to sixty of actual fighting), the most effective way of countering the Mind Rape abilities of the more powerful Exalts is to draw your sword and get hacking.
  • This is a somewhat easy conclusion to accidentally jump to from reading many tabletop RPG rulebooks in general. After all, while most other challenges are frequently all lumped together and handled with some quick-and-easy general resolution mechanic that may boil down to no more than a die roll or two to get on with the story (arguably the main technical issue with the "diplomancer" approach brought up above), combat traditionally tends to get singled out as somehow "special" with a lot more page space dedicated to its particular set of rules...that must mean it's the main point of the game and preferred way to deal with problems, right?
    • Some games avert this, by handling violent combat exactly the same way as any other conflict between different characters. Golden Sky Stories goes so far as to penalize you for resorting to violence on top of that, encouraging players to find any other way to solve a problem.
    • A discussed and lampshaded trope in Greg Stolze's How to Play Roleplaying Games.
    • Also discussed in the GURPS sourcebook Social Engineering, which was touched on the differing approaches stereotypical tabletop RPGs have towards violence and talking your way out.
  • BattleTech runs on this trope. The setting is kept in a state of near perpetual war because peace is boring (and would stop them from making more sourcebooks).

     Video Games  

  • Suikoden II almost fools you into thinking that it's over after the defeat of the initial Big Bad with an impending peace council. However, you quickly find out that it's not that easy...
  • Averted twice in Chrono Cross. In two battles (one the final boss, the other a bonus mission), it is possible to defeat the enemy by main force but more rewarding if a non-violent method is used.
    • And lampshaded in Chrono Trigger DS. The Bonus Boss of the Dimensional Vortex is the Final Boss of Chrono Cross. Although the only way out of this battle is by force, Schala still returns the party to wherever they came from and berates them for using violence to solve their conflicts, suggesting to use an alternate solution to defeat their foe.
  • Averted in the Neverwinter Nights mod A Dance with Rogues, which gives you minimal XP from killing things, and most of the time ends up being a stealth-based puzzle game instead of a traditional hack-and-slash D&D game.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, there are numerous confrontations that you can resolve without spilling blood, though there are plenty of encounters where you don't have any other options.
    CHARNAME: Hi! I want to pass through your land!
    Kuo-Toa Leader: Klodg do g'ith dal shaog gossath! Geetaaah!
    CHARNAME: (sigh) This isn't going to end well, is it?
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 contains plenty of diplomatic options, sometimes allowing you to pacify entire factions. But if you side with the City Watch, any criminal you try to arrest will refuse, preferring to fight you to death — Suicidal Overconfidence at its finest. A particularly jarring example is an optional quest in Blacklake, when you need to pass as a merchant and convince some thieves to buy from you. If you botch the bluff and diplomacy checks, then they'll recognize you as a fake and fight you. If you successfully convince them you're genuine, then they'll make the deal and then will fight you when the Watchmen accompanying you try to arrest them. The only benefit from this outcome is some extra XP and gold.
  • Final Fantasy VI does this grandly, with an extensive sequence near the middle of the game that features you negotiating with The Empire. The Emperor will even reward you if you're particularly skilled with your diplomacy. However, this is all just bait.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, the pacifist residents of Fisherman's Horizon criticize the main characters for solving problems with violence, arguing that all problems can be solved by talking them out. Atypically, the main character doesn't disagree with their outlook, but when the enemy's army shows up and the mayor of FH goes to try to reason with them, the main characters still end up having to rescue him and drive the enemy soldiers out by force.
    • The player can optionally choose to have Squall try to explain his stance after the battle, resulting in a somewhat confused explanation wherein Squall says that diplomacy is great, and he would prefer it, but that not everyone agrees, and as long as the threat of violence remains, it's impossible for everything to be resolved diplomatically. He then apologizes for fighting and walks away.
    • Done again in Final Fantasy IX where the queen attacks Clerya and the residents try to reason with the enemy, only to be killed. Zidane and some residents from Burmecia are fed up that the peace keepers can't fight and vow to slaughter every soldier that gets in the way.
  • Sometimes in Civilization, the only option given to you in diplomacy is to to declare war.
    • Even if you try to remain on friendly terms with everyone, some civilization will inevitably declare war on you even if you have the military and/or technological advantage. They will then proceed to walk their spearmen into your cannon fire.
      • And sometimes win.
  • Star Control II often averts this with the non-evil races whom you can actually be diplomatic to or you can choose to kill them and get RU. However, there are races that will attack you no matter what you say. Though they usually are willing to chat, often at great length, before they throw down.
  • In Fire Emblem 10 Yune repeatedly mentions that diplomacy will not work on Aserua. Given that the latter is an Ax-Crazy Knight Templar goddess this more or less makes sense.
    • Definitely not the only instance, though. Victory: Rout Enemy, anyone?
    • Some chapters have an enemy that can be recruited by talking to them, averting this trope. This is an especially unexpected option with Oliver. Some recruits like Shinon (in 9) are straight examples; you have to take them down before they'll join you.
    • Along similar lines, in The Order of the Stick, this is Roy's completely justified response to the suggestion of diplomacy with Xykon.
      • Once more on similar lines when Xykon tries to do this to Roy. In a somewhat humorous instance, the big bad spends several rounds attempting to talk Roy into leaving to go adventure some more before confronting him, only to be attacked each time.
  • SWAT 2, a real-time tactics game, features a decent interface for diplomacy, wherein you can make or grant demands, depending on your side. Good negotiations can provide a few extra points (and in the terrorist campaign, is once required for mission completion), but the missions can never be properly resolved by negotiations alone. A successful SWAT mission still ends with busting in and killing/arresting the suspects, and the terrorists likewise need to kill all of their attackers or make their escape off-map.
    • For that matter, the ability to arrest suspects rather than just killing them in it and the next two games is an aversion of this, more so in SWAT 4 where there's the "unauthorized use of deadly force" penalty if you kill someone before they shoot at you.
  • Massively averted in many of the Shin Megami Tensei games, where negotiating with Wandering Monsters is a vital way to gain new allies/spell cards/info.
  • Beating the hell out of something is the usual solution to the problems that come up in Lost Odyssey, but when the Big Bad uses magic to turn one of your party members into a People Puppet, the best solution is to do anything but attack, since killing your friend results in an immediate Game Over.
  • This can be averted in Fallout—you can play the entire game as a pacifist and still kill the final boss without having a big shootout.
    • The final boss of Fallout 2 forces you to have an all-out fight scene; however, if you play your cards right, you can convince the hostile NPCs to fight the final boss for you.
    • The Tenpenny Tower side-quest in Fallout 3. Either kill Roy Phillips and lose karma, turn his fellow Feral Ghouls on the tower and lose karma, or arrange for them to live in the tower only to have them back-stab the residents later.
    • The Legion and Mr. House story branches in Fallout: New Vegas require you to blow up the Brotherhood of Steel. Conversely, the non-House quest lines require you to either immediately kill House, or disconnect him from the mainframe and have him die a slow, horrible death. For Birds of a Feather, you have to either kill Cass yourself or have her executed by Jean-Baptiste, precluding the completion of Heartache by the Number.
  • Ratchet & Clank. When you can just walk into nearest shop and buy a BFG, corrupt CEOs and Omnicidal Maniacs are on the loose, and The World Is Always Doomed, are there really any other options?
  • Subverted in Iji. You can kill everything in sight like usual, but you'll probably feel sorry for it later on. It's also possible to go through the whole game without killing anything, which leads to a slightly happier ending.
  • The campaigns maps in the Total War series of games pretends to feature political machinations and allegiances, but in the end everything will either be allied against you or allied to you and in your way (and no-one else's). In Medieval: Total War this includes rebellions, automatic battle outcomes, and whatever political maneuvering has not yet been tossed aside in favor of constant war. No matter how much cunning you use, the AI (and sometimes the random number generator) will all conspire against you; the only real answer is fighting. Lots of fighting.
    • This is institutionalized in Shogun 2, in which conquering territory makes the other clans more wary of you (a penalty to diplomatic relations). This penalty slowly resets over time if you enter periods of peace. After conquering 18 regions or taking Kyoto, however, an event called 'Realm Divide' kicks in that automatically lowers all clans' opinions of you by 5 for every turn that passes, more or less ensuring that within the next year or so every other clan in Japan will be at your throat and cancelling all their trade agreements with you, including your vassals and old friends.
  • Golden Sun The Lost Age subverts this when you're able to recover the gem stolen from the town of Madra by the warring Kibombo tribe without engaging any of the Kibombo warriors you encounter in combat.
  • At the end of Atelier Iris 3, the heroes try to talk things out with Uroborus, the Eldritch Abomination that threatens their world, to no avail. They fight it but lose anyway; they are only saved by Iris' Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Inverted in A Force More Powerful, if you want to win. Smart nonviolent action is the only way to succeed against your foes, who all have far more military power.
  • Lampshaded and many jokes cracked about it in Endless Frontier. Many people question the morality of your party due to how quick they are to violence.
  • This can be averted in most battles in Final Fantasy Tactics with the Mediator. In fact, running through the game with a party made purely of Mediators will often lead to convincing the ENTIRE enemy force to defect to your side! When playing such a Pacifist Run, the only enemies which cannot be defeated in this fashion are, of course, the Story-relevant characters opposed to the hero.
  • Played with a LOT in Super Robot Taisen Original Generation Saga where the villains usually don't want to fight but say something to insult one of the heroes, which pisses them off and causes a chain reaction. This has led to the more sane party members commenting on how they feel like they're the villains.
  • Planescape: Torment and Arcanum are both novel in that neither forces you to fight anyone at all should you wish (not that this manner of playing is easy, just possible). In fact for both, the "better" endings involve you Talking the Big Bad to Death.
  • Used in an extremely annoying way in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. In almost every quest for the vast majority of the game, you have the options of diplomacy, stealth, intimidation, or using your vampire magic before you have to get into a physical fight, so the two sections where you don't have those options can be... irritating, especially if you don't have a combat-focused character build. There's the Nosferatu Warrens plotline, where you have to navigate a long set of mazes while killing some fairly nasty monsters and one tricky miniboss, and the endgame, where you have to kill at least one and usually two pain in the ass bosses.
    • Ditto Alpha Protocol, by the same developers. Though most of the game is tremendously open-ended in allowing for all sorts of different approaches, there are a number of mandatory boss battles that will stymie Player Characters not tuned for direct combat.
  • Deus Ex comes close to averting this, since you can get through most of the game without killing or even attacking anyone. Only a handful of characters have to be attacked and players have found ways of going Off the Rails to avoid killing any.
    • In the prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution you do not have to kill any of the mooks. As in the first game, the game gives you a spectrum to work on, either going Technical Pacifist with stun guns or Actual Pacifist by stealthing it up. You only have to kill the four bosses. It just gets harder to resist the urge to start killing once you find out what kind of people the mooks are.
      • This actually brought the game under some criticism. Many people did not like that you have to kill someone. So, when the "Missing Link" DLC was released, they gave players the option of sparing the final boss.
  • Subverted in The Godfather game. While you will have to punch out or gun down a lot of enemy mobsters, as well as use violence on the owners of most of their fronts in order to "persuade" them to give the Corleones control, gaining enough Respect to talk said owners into peacefully giving up actually results in you earning more money. Bribing cops and running from them is preferable to killing them outright if you have a choice. In ending a Mob War, it's easier to run to a FBI agent on the take and drop him $3000 than brave an enemy business to bomb it.
  • Touhou lives and breathes and snorts this trope. No matter than problem, the response is always pelting the purpetrator with gratuitous amounts of danmaku until they stop, even if they have to wade through a few uninvolved individuals to even find the person/s causing the problem. Routinely and heavily justified in both the games and supplementary material, with the entire massive cast being varying degress of batshit insane and the entirely non-lethal combat viewed mostly as a game.
    • And nobody's suggesting that the violence solves much of anything.
    • It's implied and speculated in supplementary material that the youkai in Touhou are, by their very definition, the opposite of humans, and if they defy their own definition by not opposing mankind they cease to be. This could make danmaku duels a relatively peaceful solution that's been erected for the sake of youkai: By being able to fight non-lethally, weaker youkai can antagonize humanity without having to fear being Killed Off for Real by the local Miko, and stronger youkai can indulge their nefarious schemes without having to fear wiping out Gensoukyou should they be forced to fight the Barrier Maiden who keeps the place existing. If the speculation is true, then a degree of violence indeed is the only option for humans and youkai to live in (relative) peace and harmony together.
  • The premise of Total Annihilation is a millennia-old war over a fundamental difference in philosophy, and all diplomatic alternatives have presumably been extinguished long ago.
  • Averted in Wild ARMs 2: Diplomacy is actually pretty effective, bringing the three kingdoms together to help you fight the Big Bad. Of course, Figalia being somewhat of a Crapsack World, banding together is pretty much necessary for survival. It still feels really good to be able to make the world a better place, instead of the standard RPG trope of the world getting steadily WORSE throughout the game.
  • Averted in the original Prince of Persia, where you have to Sheathe Your Sword when fighting your evil mirror twin.
  • More or less AdventureQuest, Dragon Fable, MechQuest and AdventureQuest Worlds in a nutshell. Expect numerous lampshades.
  • This is actually averted in Knights of the Old Republic if you're light side or a clever dark side. Unfortunately, you rarely get XP for avoiding fights. On the other hand, some of the best fun in the game is in finding ways to trick people into attacking you, netting you XP for killing them while staying light side.
  • This trope gets batted all about in the Dark Forces Saga:
    • Averted in In Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, with the power Force Grab, which allows the Kyle Katarn to snatch weapons from the hands of his enemies with the odd effect of leaving stormtroopers running around shouting "Stand at your post! Stand at your post!", hence one can follow the Jedi principle of conflict avoidance through much of the game, leaving a wake of living but disarmed opponents in Kyle's path. Interestingly, grans disarmed would approach Katarn and try to beat him up.
    • Played straight in Dark Forces: Mysteries of the Sith, where stormtroopers learned to attack Katarn by hand when disarmed. Fisticuff troopers are generally ineffective, but they warrant neutralization, all methods of which are lethal. Most other characters will also suicide-rush Kyle (or Mara) throughout the game, once disarmed.
    • Averted through most of the latter half of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, though Raven Software intended the this trope to be played straight: Kyle relearns force-pull note , which can disarm many of the locals, and only the occasional unarmed Gran will try to strongarm a lightsaber-wielding kyle. Stormtroopers will alternate between surrender (throwing their hands up) and running around looking for a dropped weapon. note  An event starting a duel with a mini-Sith during the Bespin levels requires all the previous enemies to be killed off; if Kyle had been handling foes the Jedi way, he'll have to massacre all the lives he previously spared in order to continue.
    • Averted and played straight depending on each level in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Some levels have Destroy All Enemies as a mission parameter. At the same time, one can very quickly achieve Force Grip level three (ironically a dark-side power) which has the incidental effect of disarming most opponents note  So it is possible to minimize conflict Jedi-style though much of the game. note  Again, though, Raven intended this trope to be played straight.
  • Played straight in No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in HARM's Way despite itself. The game includes a number of ways to knock opponents out, such as the CT-180 utility launcher and tranquilizer darts. Sadly, knocked out bad guys will not only wake up in short time, but will also magically manifest weapons. The pragmatic response is to stealth-kill by tranq-ing targets from afar , and then finishing them off at point blank with a suppressed handgun. note , while this process makes for excellent grim spy action, it is rather dissonant with the otherwise lighthearted feel of the rest of the game.
  • Until the A Murder of Crows expansions, victory in Sword of the Stars could only be achieved through annihilation of the enemy. Even with diplomacy options being available from then on, you still need violent power on tap if the target refuses to surrender.
    • It is actually possible to win the game without firing a shot. If the Random Number God on a small map pits your Liir faction against mostly other Liir opponents, there's a good chance they'll try to ally right after meeting them. A single not-too warlike race will likely research Liir language quickly, and be able to join in, instantly winning the game. It feels a bit like a Non Standard Game Over though.
  • In NieR the world is doomed because everyone thinks this trope is true when it really isn't.
  • Subverted in TaskMaker, a Fetch Quest RPG for the Mac. One of the quests given to you by the title character is to bring him the head of a rebel. A player can indeed kill the Rebel and take his head (although this drains a lot of points and some Spirit due to his Good alignment, which is not revealed until after you kill him), but the saner option is to Bestow a gift to the Rebel, who will then give you a slave's head to pass off as his own. The TaskMaker never suspects a thing.
  • In Warlock: Master of the Arcane, the AI will within two dozen turns of meeting you send you a demand for half your money or mana. Your options are ´accept´ or ´declare war´. Accepting several times may let them offer an alliance, but it won´t stop them from demanding half your stuff at regular intervals. In short, when meeting an AI opponent, get ready to rumble.
  • Spec Ops: The Line lives and breathes this, which clashes dramatically with its War Is Hell moralizing.
  • In Video Game/Wasteland2, General Vargas examines the idea and rejects it. A quick bullet to the head is a viable solution to most problems, but never a good one, never the first one and never the only one. Sadly, gameplay doesn't quite support this.
  • In The Wonderful 101, it gets to the point where "Diplomacy has failed!" becomes something of a Catch Phrase for Wonder Red. Not that the team ever tries very hard to make diplomacy work.

     Web Comics  

     Web Original  
  • In Greek Ninja, although there is some form of a discussion first, Sasha and Daichi decide it's the only way to settle their disagreement.

     Western Animation  
  • Minerva learns this lesson in Transformers Super God Masterforce.
  • In the Halloween Angry Beavers episode with the Oxnard Montalvo, at one point Oxnard is holding off a bunch of monsters, when someone suggests they attempt to communicate. Oxnard says that he is speaking the only language the monsters can understand, namely, fisticuffs.
  • Often played straight in the Justice League, but especially in The Terror Beyond, where Superman, Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman bust into Dr. Fate's tower, and find him performing some ritual with Aquaman and Solomon Grundy, and immediately decide to attack, while Fate and co. violently defend themselves without a word of explanation. Just a single sentence in vein "We're just trying to save the world here, so please butt out for a minute" would have avoided a lot of pain in all sides.
  • This is one of the driving forces behind Aang's character growth in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Being a pacifist monk who was taught to never kill, he's not really suited for being at the head of the war effort, and often tries diplomacy instead. When the time comes to defeat the Big Bad his friends and past lives point out that he has no other choice but to kill him, even if its sacrificing his morals. In the end he gets a spiritual way to defeat Ozai instead of killing him handed to him on a silver platter.
    • The reverse problem is handed to his sucessor, Avatar Korra. She’s a Blood Knight in a situation which requires a little more diplomacy and political maneuvering than she’s used to. That’s not to say she shouldn’t use violence- just a little less.
  • There have been times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when this was the case. Often, a pony would lean forward, snort, and paw the ground with a forehoof just before opening a can of kickflank.
  • Parodied in the Phineas and Ferb episode, Excaliferb. Carl's attempt to introduce Carl the paladin is actually attempting to hide the fact that the book ends with a very long, dry arms treatise.
    • Normally played straight, but sometimes averted. Several times, Doofenshmirtz will admit that his plan has failed (either through sabotage or his own shortsightedness) and point out that there's no reason to fight, half-heartedly yell "curse you Perry the Platypus" and go to bed.

     Real Life  

  • The ending change for the 2007 movie I Am Legend (based on the reaction of test audiences) demonstrates that people like this trope.
  • Malcolm X is infamously known to be the advocate for this trope, as the quote noted above.
  • PM Chamberlain's determined effort to make "Peace for our time" through diplomatic means. It didn't work, although his efforts did at least buy a little time to rearm the British military.
  • The case where a man flew his plane into an IRS building, where just before he set off to do it, he posted on the Internet saying "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."
  • An old saying goes "Violence only understands violence": While the defender doesn't want war, it's either fight back or let the other guy take your country.
  • Another old adage goes Si vis pacem, para bellumnote  History has demonstrated time and again that the ability to wage war is necessary to defend the values of one's society, including the right of that society to exist. Indeed, even within, a government's authority is based on a Monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, and where it fails to enforce this monopoly, smaller forms of state (e.g. schismatized denominations, terrorist groups and street gangs) rise to fulfill the niche.
    • More importantly, there are some people with whom diplomacy will not work. Combat junkies, the impenetrably self-righteous, and the like are unlikely to be talked down. The main use of diplomacy with such is, as one definition puts it, the fine art of saying "Nice doggy" while you find a suitable rock.
    • And the Roman adage/grammatical mnemonic: Vis vim vi vincit, force beats force with (more) force.
    • The more modern internet age adage: "If violence isn't solving all your problems, you simply aren't using enough of it."
  • In Real Life, Realpolitik —thankfully— doesn't work this way. After some fiasco involving missiles in Cuba, the USA and USSR decided to wise up and open direct phone line between Washington and Moscow, so they can always talk things up instead of torching the world in nuclear flame and hoping that only your side survive.
    • The Cold War in general is a very long aversion of this trope, although its omnipresence caused paranoia, panic, and persecution on both sides.
  • Sadly, often the only solution for bullying is violence by attacking the bully physically.
  • This trope applies fully for street gangs, terrorists, and other criminals. They don't respect life, boundaries, or even honor. What they do care about, however, is not getting killed.

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