Laconic Main PlayingWith Quotes
Shoot the Shaggy Dog
: A story in which the protagonist dies and his or her efforts are rendered pointless.
Straight: Alice spends an hour and a half of screen time trying to find the owner of a lost shaggy dog, only to be shot for trespassing.
Alice embarks on The Hero's Journey, completing an epic quest to defeat the Big Bad. When she turns up at his unholy palace for the final confrontation... she's shot by a low-ranking guard.
The protagonist unexpectedly dies... and there's a Fade to Black, with No Ending.
Downplayed: A story about an aimless, self-destructive drifter, who gets mixed up with dangerous criminals for want of anything else to do, ends up with him dying pointlessly, alone and unmourned.
Inverted: A How We Got Here, Dead to Begin With story told via Posthumous Narration turns out to have been a Mind Screw from the start; the narrator survived his "death", and it was all part of a devious Thanatos Gambit.
Parodied: Just as all his plans are coming together, the protagonist dies when he trips on a loose paving slab.
Zig Zagged: The hero dies... but he managed to get a message off first! The Cavalry charge in to save the day... and are killed by Colony Drop. But the hero was Not Quite Dead, and that distraction has given him the time to slink off to destroy the Artifact of Doom. He's caught by The Dragon, who shoots him unceremoniously. The End... Or Is It? The final shot is of a timer slowly ticking down on the protagonist's mysterious briefcase, which has somehow found its way into the Big Bad's throne room...
Averted: The protagonist survives, or at least accomplishes something meaningful before dying.
Enforced: The film was made under The Hays Code, and the Villain Protagonist was given a last-minute Karmic Death to abide by it.
Lampshaded: " You Wouldn't Shoot Me! It'd make this whole story a complete waste of time!"
Invoked: Alice kills herself pointlessly because of her Nietzsche Wannabe philosophy.
Exploited: Alice realises she can't survive, but reckons that going down in a blaze of glory will make her a martyr, and her story will inspire others to try to succeed where she failed.
Defied: "I'm not going to needlessly endanger my life — if I die, there'll be nobody left to stop Nefaro, and this will all have been in vain!"
Discussed: "You came so far, and all for nothing. I'm going to kill you now. And thus will end the story of Alice, who tried to stop the great Nefaro, and died. I don't think many people will pay to see that one, do you?"
Conversed: "Wait, she's dead? What was the point of that?"
Implied: A Shaggy Dog Story has a Bolivian Army Ending.
Plotted A Good Waste: It's an action movie with an Excuse Plot that sets the hero up to extricate himself from a devious Bond Villain-esque death trap. With that out of the way, all the audience wants now is for the plot to be wrapped up neatly so they can go home. So at the very end, The Dragon, who asked his boss at the very beginning " Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?", Just Shoots Him. Fin.
Played For Laughs: It's a Black Comedy with a Carnival of Killers in Four Lines, All Waiting. Every storyline ends with the meaningless death of its protagonist. (Why yes, Guy Ritchie did direct it, how did you know?)
: Alice embarks on Logical Extreme The Hero's Journey, completing an epic quest to defeat the Big Bad. When she turns up at his unholy palace for the final confrontation... we find that the Big Bad was a hallucination at best, and Alice descending into insanity at worst.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog