Playing With / Combat Pragmatist

Basic Trope: A character who is defined by their willingness to do anything in a fight to win.
  • Straight: Bob challenges Alice to a sword fight but she pulls out a gun instead and shoots him.
  • Exaggerated: Bob challenges Alice to a boxing match and she opts to blow up the entire gym with Bob inside it.
  • Downplayed:
    • Alice engages in a sword fight with Bob but during the fight, she grabs a rock from off the ground and throws it at him to avoid being skewered.
    • Bob challenges Alice's teammate, Charlie, to a one-on-one fist fight. While Alice initially stays out of the fight, Bob pulling out a knife prompts her to shoot him declaring that if he won't stick to the rules neither will she.
  • Justified:
    • Alice needs to hurry for whatever reason and has no time to waste in a prolonged sword fight.
    • Bob is a much better swordsman than Alice and she doesn't want to be killed.
    • Alice already had a gun on hand so why not use it?
    • Bob is the Villain and Alice is a firm believer in Pay Evil unto Evil
    • Alice is in a war and doesn't have time to fight with honor.
    • Alice doesn't even use a sword and only has a gun so by her logic she was using the only weapon she had at the time.
  • Inverted:
    • Alice purposefully handicaps herself in the fight against Bob "to make it fair".
    • Bob decides not to play fair and shoots Alice. Big Bad Wallenquist, who sees Alice as the Worthy Opponent, has Bob killed and apologizes to Alice for his Dragon's lack of dueling etiquette.
  • Subverted:
    • Alice pulls her gun and tosses it aside in order to fight Bob fairly in a swordfight.
    • Alice is a Good Is Not Soft heroine who does what she can against villains but is much more restrained when sparring with fellow heroes.
  • Double Subverted: During the fight, she gets knocked down and, seeing that she is about to be killed, grabs the gun and shoots Bob.
  • Parodied:
    • Bob challenges Alice to "an honorable sword fight." She pulls a sword, then presses the trigger at the bottom of the sword's hilt, which fires a bullet out the end of the blade and kills him. "What, your sword doesn't shoot bullets?"
    • Alice surprises Bob by pulling the gun on him bragging about how stupid he was for using a sword against a gun. But she is a lousy shot, enabling Bob to easily avoid her firing (Through Nonchalant Dodge nonetheless) and then slash her down.
    • Alice: What? It was a fight nobody said it had to be a sword fight, not my fault he didn't bring a gun with him.
    • Alice: Ha! You stupid wannabe Hero! Only a moron would bring a sword against a gunslinger like me! Bob: You do realize that I am practically bullet proof right? Alice: Oh... Heh heh, oh yeah I did forgot about that... well this is awkward.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice will fight fair until she's losing, then go for whatever dirty trick will put her on top. Then she'll fight fair again unless it's taking too long, at which point she'll use the necessary tactics to end the fight quickly.
  • Averted:
    • Alice fights Bob in a fair sword fight.
    • Bob is an Implacable Man. Any attempt to kill him with a method other than a honorable one-on-one sword fight (and that is if the plot actually provides such an "escape clause") is just asking to be on the wrong end of a Mook Horror Show... and obviously, this will be described on a Chekhov's Classroom early on, so Alice (and the audience) doesn't gets any funny ideas.
    • Big Bad Walker, even if a ruthless bastard otherwise, follows The Laws and Customs of War (or the In-Universe version of them, written or not). It is made very clear that if Alice fights with honor, he will apply Contractual Genre Blindness as a kind of "reward" and she may have a chance of defeating him... but if she doesn't...
  • Enforced: The writers want to show how pragmatic Alice is in a fight for character development and/or a little humor.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Why would I fight fair when I could just shoot you?"
    • "Since when has being a paragon of honor ever worked out for anyone?"
  • Invoked:
    • Alice brings a gun to the sword fight, knowing Bob would be too honorable to have one himself.
    • The Big Good hired Alice to defeat Bob, knowing she'll be more likely to shoot him and get it over with, unlike more honorable heroes.
  • Exploited: Combat pragmatists are gathered in a spec-ops team send into dangerous missions where their pragmatic approach to fighting will give them the edge.
  • Defied:
    • Bob realizes Alice would likely pull a gun so he wore a bulletproof vest, forcing her to fight more fairly.
    • Alice for once brought a sword just like Bob did - under the knowledge that once she start ignoring the rules, others would follow suit, and she would have a difficult time dealing with other opponents in the long run.
    • Bob asks Jim to get Alice's wife and stand by the sidelines with a shotgun to her head and then tells Alice that if she so much as thinks of playing dirty, Jim will kill her as a "penalty".
  • Discussed: "Alice might not fight fair but at least she gets the job done."
  • Conversed: Two characters watch the scene play out in a movie and discuss how practical Alice is.
  • Implied: "Bring a sword to a sword fight if you must but I've always preferred bringing guns."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob is smart enough to bring a gun of his own, knowing Alice would not be honorable enough to fight fair.
    • Alice bring a gun but misses her shot, since she never fought fair she never bothered training her aim or react if Bob moves too fast for her.
    • Alice's way of fighting is seen as dirty; she quickly gains a bad reputation as a weakling and/or Dirty Coward for not fighting with strength, skill, or honor.
    • Alice's lack of standards while fighting means that, in the rare instance where she is defeated, Bob shows her no mercy because he does not expect it in turn.
    • Alice is normally alright with using underhanded tactics because her opponents are normally scum anyways but is a bit hesitant when she is forced to fight a brainwashed ally.
    • Alice shoots Bob down and claims herself victorious but was deemed the loser as she failed a Secret Test of Character and was banished due to her underhanded ways.
    • The Big Bad tries to exploit Alice's cynical underhanded nature by getting Alice's pragmatic tactics to horribly backfire on her (such as having the berserk werewolf that she shot in the head instead of using The Power of Love to non-lethally dispel be her boyfriend).
    • There are rules (spoken or not) to this "game", and the "penalty" for either side breaking them is severe. Alice thus gets to see her Doomed Hometown destroyed because a lesson had to be given about what happens if someone "cheats".
    • Alice is good at fighting dirty, setting up traps and quick-drawing... but unfortunately she is very bad at fighting fair (because she lacks the physicality or she has a very bad sense for split-second planning). If anybody survives her initial ambush, Alice is screwed.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Alice counted on Bob bringing a gun, so she brought a grenade.
    • Alice doesn't care; she prefers whatever gets the job done.
    • A story that tries to give the Aesop that just because someone is not strict with their Moral Code that doesn't mean they have no morals at all, so in other words just because Alice doesn't follow a strict code does not mean she is evil.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob pulls a sword and does a lot of flynning. Alice shrugs, pulls a gun, and shoots him.
  • Played For Drama: Bob tries to kill Alice with a knife and nearly succeeds. In desperation, Alice grabs a gun and opens fire.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: Alice is sold as a strong fighter because her drive to shoot first (oftentimes literally) borders on No-Nonsense Nemesis... and then she gets kicked out of the Tournament Arc because she jumped the gun and knocked out her opponent before the match officially started. The lesson to be learned is that there is one time and place for fighting "smart" and a different one for following every cliché in the fighting media book.

Back to Combat Pragmatist
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