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Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?

That's one thing I like about the bad guys - there's always a lot of discussion before they get round to pulling the trigger.
Ullman, Metro 2033

Villains frequently find themselves in conundrums that could easily be solved by finding the right person and shooting them but refrain from doing so.

There may or may not be some in-story justification for this failure to take the direct approach. The Doylist explanation will always boil down to the fact that if he did just shoot him, then the story would be much shorter and would end with the bad guys winning.

Subtropes include:
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The villain has the opportunity to kill the good guy, but leaves them alive anyway, sometimes for no adequately explained reason.
  • Complexity Addiction: The villain does try to kill the hero, but employs some ridiculously elaborate (and thus easily-foiled) method, rather than just shooting them.
  • Evil Gloating: Even when the villain intends to kill the hero in a straightforward fashion, they still feel the need to gloat about it immediately beforehand, thus giving the hero time to escape or fight back.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Someone in the story points out that the above three options are stupid and that a simpler, more direct solution exists. The villain may or may not take their advice.

Compare Third Act Stupidity, Contractual Genre Blindness. Contrast Dangerously Genre Savvy, Combat Pragmatist, and No-Nonsense Nemesis.

If you, the viewer, are wondering why someone won't just shoot someone else, Headscratchers is the place to ask.

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alternative title(s): Why Dont Ya Just Shoot Him
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