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Aggressive Negotiations

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Violence tends to override compromise.

Anakin: When I got to them, we got into aggressive negotiations.
Padmé: Aggressive negotiations? What's that?
Anakin: Ah, well, negotiations with a lightsaber.
Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones

The Big Bad and the Hero meet in peace. Whether the intent is malicious or benign, both sides seem willing to talk it out, at least for now. And anyway, you can't just lop off somebody's head during parley, right? Eh... right?

Apparently you can, considering the fact that somebody involved in the parley has just busted out swords, guns, or a Humongous Mecha. Both sides can pull one of these, though it usually happens when a Mook from one side of the conflict goes to negotiate with the other sides. There are exceptions, however, where many members from both sides participate. In this case, somebody pulling this trope can spark an all-out Mexican Standoff as everybody pulls weapons, resulting in a peace agreement potentially leading to a mutual slaughter.

In a series on the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, a character that does this is either being badass for silencing the enemy or is just being really stupid. As this trope tends to cause war to break out, there aren't many idealist series with this in them, but characters that do invoke this trope tend to be just incredibly stupid.

Note that, in the long term, regardless of who initiates this trope or why, the main accomplishment will be that the other side simply won't trust them to negotiate in good faith. Which might be effective (albeit horrifically immoral) if you can completely wipe out the enemy in this one attack, but will absolutely come back to bite you in the butt later if the enemy has the upper hand.

Contrast and compare with Shoot the Messenger, in which a messenger, who comes in peace, but only to deliver a message, is killed. The two tropes can overlap, as well: if the victim of the invoker of this trope delivers a message and is negotiating, it is both tropes at once.

See also: I Surrender, Suckers, Gunboat Diplomacy. Compare An Offer You Can't Refuse. The calling card of the Ambadassador when the peaceful solution fails.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: Lelouch Lamperouge pulls one of these at the UFN meeting. And then unintentionally with Euphemia.
  • In Cross Ange Ange and Embryo have a meeting in which they both discuss on how to fix the world's mess as both do think the world has become very reliant of Mana to the point that they are slaves to it and it's not fair for the Norma because they're basically slaves. As expected, negotiations broke down with Ange killing Embryo, while Embryo invoking his Death Is Cheap card to inflict Mind Rape on Ange.
  • Danzo was going to do this in Naruto, but was interrupted by Sasuke busting in.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi and Fate almost invoke this, over whether or not tea or coffee is better. This happens later anyway.
  • The Ride-On King: Purchinov dons his suit and tries to negotiate truce with Jilalie, arguing that due to the village getting destroyed many times in the past, Gorde's family has effectively abandoned that area. Since she doesn't take his offer, and wanted to capture everyone inside regardless, Purchinov's allies blow up her units from the back and he shoots Carvin with a gun he had with him the entire time, with Marcelos finishing with Boom, Headshot!. And now Jilalie is outnumbered and the talk continues.
  • Space Warrior Baldios episode "The False Peace Conference" has a conference where both sides bring significant armed entourages. S-1 dictator Gattler via self-destructing robot double demands the extermination of all Earthlings and possession of Earth in exchange for ceasing hostilities and immediately orders an attack on the attending dignitaries. The event turns into the biggest pitched battle of the war, and even Blue Fixer's intervention with a portable bunker only saves part of the Earth delegation.
  • In Vinland Saga this trope happens, and is subverted as well, several times:
    • A negotiation between Halfdan and Thors' village almost becomes violent when Ari and one of Halfdan's men are revealed to have a blood feud. Rather than let things turn violent Halfdan punishes his follower for dishonouring him.
    • Floki and Askeladd come close to coming to blows over a contract when Askeladd starts questioning Floki's motives, only to have Bjorn provide an icebreaker by 'accidentally throwing a javelin into their meeting and killing the assassin Floki had hidden behind the curtain in the room. Floki acquiesces.
    • During the Siege of London, Floki attempts to negotiate Thorkell's return to the Danish fold (and the surrender of London) until Thorkell makes it clear he's not switching sides while the Danes hold the upper hand and would be funnier to fight. Then he throws a boulder into Floki's ship.
    • Several of Askeladd's mutinous men attempt to negotiate with Thorkell during their Stern Chase.Thorkell orders them all killed instead.
    • Sweyn attempts to kill Canute during their first encounter because he sees him as superfluous. He only backs down when Canute shows enough of his Character Development to impress his father.
    • Sweyn and Askeladd attempt to negotiate a potential end to hostilities with Wales. Sweyn offers Askeladd a Sadistic Choice between Canute and Wales. Askeladd Takes a Third Option and beheads Sweyn.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Sinister Dexter story "The Why-Shaped Cut", leaders of the global criminal syndicates meet in The Reef to discuss how to divide up Downlode after the war between Senor Apellido and The Mover ends. When John Crash discovers that Carrie Hosanna is planning on betraying the rest of them and seizing Downloder for the Mangapore Yakuza, he starts firing, and all Hell breaks loose.
  • During Infinity, Captain America suggest negotiating a surrender. He claims he's sent his best negotiator: Thor. At this point, you guess he doesn't really intend to surrender, but Thor doesn't switch to violence until the enemy made it clear that there would be no peace negotiation and they would destroy Earth anyway.
  • Democracy: In the scene where Leonidas converse with his older brother, Kleomenes, and suggests him to leave Athens, Kleomenes reacts by pulling out his sword and threating to kill him. Weirdly enough, Leonidas remains calm throughout the conversation.

    Comic Strips 
  • The title characters in the Knights of the Dinner Table have had their PCs do this at least once while parleying with some orcs. Both Sara and B.A. Felton were not pleased by this.
  • Hägar the Horrible:
    Helga: Where are you going?
    Hägar : To make peace with the English.
    Helga: If you are making peace, why do you need all the weapons?
    Hägar: Well, we have to negotiate first.

    Fan Works 
  • When prophet's ship arrives at the Legion base in Legionnaire, a bizarre combination of welcoming, questioning, and Mexican Standoff ensues.
  • The initially peaceful conference in My Mirror, Sword and Shield for the opening of the SAZ with the JLF falls apart when Sir Raleigh orders the troops to attack behind Euphemia and Suzaku's backs, turning into a massacre. It ends in further tears when Euphemia calls Raleigh out on his actions and refuses to back down from her ideals.
  • Downplayed in Negotiations, the first story in The Negotiations-verse - while the Peace Conference between Earth and Equestria is reasonable and professional for the most part, the human diplomat Anthony Doyle makes it very clear to Twilight Sparkle that humanity could very easily wipe Equestria off the map if the ponies don't comply with the United Nations' terms and conditions for peace, especially since the humans have a justifiably deep distrust of the Equestrians for their failed conversion crusade.
  • The Night Unfurls: A Subverted example occurs at the end of Chapter 21 of the original version. A tense atmosphere permeates the meeting between Kyril's company and the tribes of the Wild Ones, due to both sides being convinced that the other is looking for a fight. Luckily, no bloodshed happens. Both sides manage to arrive at an agreement after the chieftain of the tribe reunites with his daughter, who is under custody of Kyril's company.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 300
    • In the famous "This is Sparta" scene, Leonidas is essentially doing this. The Athenians reportedly did it as well. Based on a Real Life example, where when Xerxes' father Darius' messenger demands earth and water as tributes, the Spartans tell them to "dig them out themselves." Athenians did the same. Sparta shoved them into a well, Athens off a cliff. Everybody now:
      Messenger: This is blasphemy! This is madness!
      Leonidas: Madness? This! Is! Sparta! [punts messenger into pit]
    • Later in the movie, Leonidas mentions that he hopes Xerxes is dumb enough to try this, saying that if they assassinate him during parley, all of Greece will go to war. Regicide during parley would prove to all Greeks that the Persians can't be trusted.
  • Braveheart: William Wallace kind of does this when he angers the English generals when they are parleying before the Battle of Stirling. He incites the English until they have no choice but to shut down the parley and begin battle, where Wallace has a secret plan to slaughter them. Only fitting, since as a child Wallace had seen the gruesome aftermath of the English using this tactic.
  • In The Fifth Element, Korben Dallas negotiates by shooting the leader of the Mangalores, knowing that without their leader, the rest of them will fold.
    Dallas: Anyone else want to negotiate?
    First Mate: Where did he learn to negotiate like that?
    President: I wonder. [glares at General Munro, who looks uncomfortable]
  • Inferred to have happened in Gladiator, as the Roman negotiator is returned headless by the barbarians.
  • In the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Aragorn answers the Mouth of Sauron's demands and insinuations by beheading him with Andúril. In the books, he is merely sent off in a rage; in the theatrical cut, the negotiation does not appear at all.
  • Men in Black: This is how the Arquellians negotiate. First step is to deliver an ultimatum. Next, they fire a "warning shot" at an uninhabited area (in this case a heat beam at Earth's ice caps). Finally, if the demands are not met within a galactic standard week (one hour), you can say goodbye to Planet Earth. Though they were at least nice enough to add a "Sorry" at the end of the ultimatum.
  • This is played with in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. One pirate shoots another for questioning the pirate code. However, nothing really major happens — the dead pirate was a nobody, and none of the assembled pirates really want a fight to break out at their meeting. A fight breaks out anyway. As Captain Jack Sparrow explains, "This is politics."
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Phantom Menace, the Trade Federation does this to the Jedi. They escape, however.
      Obi-Wan: You were right about one thing, master: The negotiations were short.
    • The Trope Namer is from Attack of the Clones, as mentioned above. Incidentally, this scene was improvised by Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman. The Call-Back to the scene during the arena battle ("You call this a diplomatic solution?"; "No: I call it an aggressive negotiation!") was written afterwards.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Leia comes before Jabba disguised as a bounty hunter bringing in Chewbacca, as a ruse to rescue Han Solo. She demands double the reward, and when Jabba balks she pulls out and arms a thermal detonator. He's impressed by the "bounty hunter's" chutzpah, and agrees to a somewhat higher payout.

  • There are actually a few examples in the Bridge Trilogy by William Gibson, most noticeably in the second book, Idoru, between Eddie, Maryalice, Chia, and Masahiko. It doesn't help when Zona Rosa gets involved.
  • In The Culture books one warship, capable of blowing up a star, is named "Frank Exchange of Differences", a phrase generally used when diplomatic negotiations have broken down, and war is a likely, or at least plausible, outcome.
  • Discworld:
    • The First Battle of Koom Valley, as described in Thud!. Their leaders originally wanted to make peace, but a sudden fog made people on both sides panic and assume they were being ambushed.
    • Parodied in Jingo, where Vimes' army charges while waving a white flag.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden does this from time to time, most notably at the end of Grave Peril when his girlfriend is kidnapped by the Red Court. The war he started over the matter only ended nine books/years later, when he indirectly killed every single vampire of the Red Court.
    • This is also a trait of the Order of the Blackened Denarius, to the point where Dresden only agrees to a meeting with them because he knows it isn't in their best interest to attack him just yet. He arranges to have backup nearby in case he's wrong.
  • In Halo: Contact Harvest, a nervous Grunt attacks a human militiaman during a diplomatic meeting and starts the entire Human-Covenant war. The "negotiations" involved the Brutes demanding the humans hand over the planet with everything on it. There was no way this was going to end well.
  • In Heralds Of Rhimn, the miners of Ferheim make an alliance with the fey and trick their Irongardhe superiors into a deadly “negotiation.” The nobleman in charge of the mines loses his head over it.
  • The Murderbot Diaries. As a former company tool, Murderbot understands the dog-eat-dog world of the Corporate Rim better than its often naïve clients, so this comes up several times. For instance in Network Effect they return a lost crewmember and provide relief supplies to a damaged corporation vessel, whose Corrupt Corporate Executive then decides to hold them hostage so she won't have to pay for it. Murderbot immediately leaps across the table, grabs hold of her bodyguard and forces him to point his gun at his own boss, who quickly adopts a more reasonable attitude.
  • In one of the Myth Adventures books, Skeeve is parleying with the head of the opposing army when suddenly he realises the opposing army has been moving into position to attack him while he's distracted by the peace talk. He complains that this is a breach of protocol, and is informed that yes, it is, but it also works extremely well.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Invoked but ultimately subverted by Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. He meets with the Lords Declarant, lords of the Vale who want to remove him from his position of Lord Protector. He deliberately talks in circles during the parley until one of them gets frustrated, draws a sword, and threatens violence. Littlefinger notes that he would now have every right to toss all of them into a cell for this, and since they're in his castle with his guards around, none of them could stop him. Littlefinger instead gives them the ultimatum that instead of attempting to remove him immediately, they will give him a year to attempt to correct the mismanagement that has gone on in the Vale. With the threat of being tossed in a cell still hanging over their heads, they reluctantly agree. Later on in the chapter, Littlefinger reveals to an accomplice that the guy who drew his sword was actually working for him all along and the whole thing was a ploy to buy himself time. During the course of the year that the lords agreed to, he will befriend some of them and acquire the debts of others who are Impoverished Patricians, that way in a year it will be impossible for them to remove him.
    • Similarly, Catelyn and Jaime hash out a prisoner exchange agreement while he's chained to a wall and she's holding a sword to his chest — after she's already gotten him very drunk. Looking back on it the next day, he actually finds it hilarious — which is a good thing, because, for a Lannister, the Rule of Funny is a much more binding law than a sworn oath, and seems to actually be a big factor in Jaime deciding to keep the promise after all.
  • After Fëanor's death in The Silmarillion, his son Maedhros receives envoys from Morgoth offering a truce and the return of a Silmaril. Both sides try to use this trope: Maedhros brings a large party to the appointed place, but "Morgoth sent the more and there were Balrogs" and so overpowered him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, Clarke and Anya meet to discuss the possibility of peace between the 100 and the Grounders. They agree to not bring any weapons or soldiers to the meeting ... an agreement both of them ignore, instead having people with guns or bows hiding in the woods nearby. Clarke's backup was only supposed to get involved if Anya betrayed them first; it's unclear if Anya's backup was under the same orders, or if they were meant to assassinate Clarke mid-negotiation because Clarke's backup spotted them first and opened fire.
  • When Angel and the gang are working for Wolfram & Hart, Angel flips out on seeing a Groxlar Beast (a type of demon that kills babies and eats their heads) inside the offices and immediately kills it. When he angrily demands how it got past security, Harmony informs him that the beast was actually his three o'clock appointment, here to start negotiations to get the demons to stop eating baby heads.
    Angel: Oh, so that's good. [beat, realization] Oh, so this—this is bad.
    Gunn: No, actually the Grox'lar clan respects someone who takes a strong opening position.
  • This also happens at the beginning of the original (1970s) Battlestar Galactica. Count Baltar arranged a peace treaty between the 12 Colonies and the Cylons. The Colonies sent all 12 Battlestars to the conference, leaving the Colonies completely undefended. The Cylons carried out a massive attack on both the Battlestars and the colonies, almost completely wiping out both. The battlestars would have had a chance if Baltar hadn't sabotaged most of the ships and insisted on keeping the Vipers in the hangar bays.
  • The beginning of the new Battlestar Galactica. There's no actual negotiations at all: the Cylons, after years of not showing up at the annual diplomatic meeting, show up and kill everyone with barely a word.
  • Doctor Who: In "A Good Man Goes to War", when the Cybermen refuse to answer Rory's demand to know the location where the Silence were holding Amy prisoner, the Doctor blows up the entire Twelfth Cyberfleet in the distance, to show that they were not messing around.
    Rory: I have a message and a question. A message from the Doctor... and a question from me. Where. Is. My. Wife?! Oh, don't give me those blank looks! The 12th Cyber Legion monitors this entire quadrant. You hear everything. So you tell me what I need to know, you tell me now. And I will be on my way...
    Cybermen: What is the Doctor's message?
    [the entire fleet explodes]
    Rory: Would you like me to repeat the question?
  • One episode of MacGyver (1985) features the very careful aversion of this trope: Mac acts as a go-between for two groups who recognize the need for peace, but can't be together for more than a few minutes without hurling insults, at the very least. He keeps them apart by putting them in comfortable suites at opposite ends of a skytram, and relays only written materials.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Justice", the Simulant requests to negotiate with the Red Dwarf crew, and despite Rimmer urging him to shoot it in the back while it's unaware, Lister instead agrees to at least meet and talk with it.
    Lister: You wanna talk? Let's talk.
    Simulant: You have no weapons?
    Lister: No. You have no weapon?
    Simulant: No. [the two approach each other] Guess what? [pulls out large knife] I Lied.
    Lister: Guess what? [pulls out lead pipe] So did I.
    Simulant: But I lied... [pulls out gun] ...twice.
    Lister: ...didn't think of that.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "Loud As A Whisper", a mediator beams down to a planet that has been at war for hundreds of years with his interpreters (he's a deaf-mute). One of the Mooks on one side is against peace talks and kills the interpreters. You have to question the intelligence of this move. The only reason the peace talks don't dissolve completely is that other delegate from his side shoots him on the spot.
      • In the two-part episode "Unification", Spock defends his frequent use of "cowboy diplomacy" when Picard challenges him on it.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • This came up as early as TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon", when Spock takes matters into his own hands, destroying suicide booths with disruptor fire. Spock knows what he's talking about.
        Spock: Ladies and gentlemen, please move quickly away from the chamber or you may be injured.
        Ambassador Fox: What are you doing, Mister Spock?
        Spock: Practicing a peculiar variety of diplomacy, sir.
      • Another TOS episode, "A Piece of the Action", features something in between this and Gunboat Diplomacy through a combination of Orbital Bombardment and the Enterprise's phasers having the little-known capacity for being set to stun just like the hand-held ones (the Enterprise targeted the block around the building Kirk was in). The negotiations were pretty tense anyway since Kirk was held hostage and only allowed to get the call that allowed him to order that bombardment because the hostage-takers needed him to deliver their demands to the Enterprise; still it's difficult to consider a show of force of this magnitude anything but this kind of negotiation.
    • Star Trek: Discovery:
      • The Vulcans engaged in this with the Klingons before formal diplomatic relations were formed. When a Vulcan ship unknowingly first entered Klingon space, the Klingons destroyed the ship. Not one to make the same mistake twice, the policy for future encounters by any Vulcan ship running across Klingon vessels was to attack with everything they had. This ferocity led to respect, which opened the way for a diplomatic dialogue and proper channels.
      • Episode 6 has Sarek invited to what is supposed to be negotiations with a splinter Klingon group. Good thing Sarek was almost killed on the way and they had to send a Human admiral instead.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Arthurian Legend, King Arthur's final battle with Mordred started this way. Neither side trusted the other and brought plenty of heavily armed soldiers along to the negotiations. The fighting started when one soldier, bitten by an asp, drew his sword to kill it. Both sides had been warned to expect treachery and responded immediately. Due to the confusion and disorganization, both sides were essentially wiped out.

  • In The Fallen Gods, Solvin suggests this to get better prices while buying new equipment, pointing out he still has plenty of arrows. His companion Tuatha objects, saying they don't need to do any "Solvin Haggling".


    Tabletop Games 
  • Quite likely to happen whenever the player characters in any tabletop RPG attempt diplomacy, because there's almost always at least one player who thinks negotiation is boring and would rather have a big fight.
  • Can be pretty common in Rogue Trader games.
  • In the Exalted first and second edition rulesets physical combat automatically trumps social combat, making a swing of a really big sword quite a rational response to persuasion attempts. One of the Dawn Solution Ink Monkeys Charms was particularly extreme, allowing you to hurl sword blows across the world in response to negotiations by letter. (Of course, given that Exalts can actually write letters that will kill you, this does make sense in a sort of psychotic way.) However, the same rules prioritized MASS combat over individual physical fighting. Having an army at your side really helps having polite and civil conversations, true Gunboat Diplomacy. The names of corresponding initiating actions made quite an inside joke in the community, too.
    Social-build cruncher: So here I am going to have, like, 20 automatic successes on Join Debate and around ten at unnatural mental influence for its duration...
    Deadpan: That's probably a prompt brainwashing, countered only by Join Battle in response!
    Ultimate powergamer: Here's the difference between a bad and good Exalted diplomat. Bad one gets beaten all the time. Good one responds with Join War.
  • Happens a lot in Battletech, most notably is the start of the Jihad. The Word of Blake had sent a warship to Tharkad, the capital of the Lyran Alliance, intending it to be a present of the alliance the Word intended to form to combat the Clans. When the Star League disbanded, they instead used the warship to attack Tharkad, officially starting the Jihad.
    • In 3151, a March Lord of the Federated Suns decided to launch a very poorly-planned and completely unauthorized attack against the neighboring Taurian Concordinate. Not only did this result in a crushing defeat to the invadors, the leader of it was taken prisoner. Julian Davion, who'd only recently become ruler of the Federated Suns and was still trying to deal with the invasion the realm had suffered from its other neighbors, sent a ship to "negotiate" the release of the captured lord. The negotiations were just a front to get the Taurians to reveal where they were keeping the prisoner, at which point a FedSuns special forces unit launched a jailbreak and whisked him off planet. Julian lamented doing this, as while it was politically untenable to leave the lord in Taurian hands or pay the ransom they'd demanded, he also knew that his actions would mean that it would never be possible for the Taurians to ever trust any diplomatic efforts from the Suns again.
    • This is the norm for Clan society. When one Clan wants something from another Clan, they usually settle in Trials of Possessions, where in the two sides would bid a certain number of troops in a fight, with the winner taking all the spoils.

  • BIONICLE: This happens often enough in BIONICLE, but in terms of highlights:
    • Vezok, Avak, and Reidak, on order from The Shadowed One, release the Kanohi Dragon onto Metru-Nui as an attempt to force Turaga Dume to accept the "help" of the Dark Hunters in protecting it. This failed, due to the timely arrival of Toa Lhikan, Toa Nidhiki, and nine other Toa, though it be far from the last time the Dark Hunters tried to conquer Metru-Nui.
    • Lampshaded when the Barraki, in the middle of an Enemy Civil War, agree to meet with one of their own in Mantax, who has obtained the Mask of Life they seek and wishes to use the opportunity to expose the existence of the traitor amongst them that resulted in their life-long imprisonment. They all agree to come to the meeting place without weapons, but the narration notes that the idea each of them made sure at least one hidden weapon was kept nearby is nothing but a paranoid evil warlord's normal business, with only one actually having every intention of using said weapons being the traitor Takadox. Negotiations don't break down until an avalanche caused by a third party interrupts them, though Takadox was ready to bust said weapons out just before that point and in fact uses the chaos as his opportunity to try and murder Mantax, which barely fails.
    • In the earlier days of the Matoran Universe, Makuta Icarax and Makuta Mutran, along with Icarax's then-aide Pridak, went to Xia in order to negotiate with the Vortixx to stop them from selling their weapons to other nations at expensively high prices. After several days of negotiations going nowhere, Icarax leveled several buildings and the Vortixx ended up being much more eager to negotiate with him.
    After days of negotiations, Icarax lost his temper. Later, after the rubble had been cleared away, the Xians were more than willing to be reasonable.

    Video Games 
  • Radiata Stories was the scene of a trade dispute between the humans at Radiata and the dwarves at Earth Valley. Cross suggested sending knights to 'improve their negotiating position' and it's implied this trope was his plan all along.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Renegade-unlock sidequest in Mass Effect has Shepard sent to negotiate with a self-styled warlord. Said warlord's negotiation style is to start by insulting Shepard, and then make several increasingly unreasonable demands, and becoming hostile if Shepard even questions the demands. At any point during the "negotiation," Shepard has the option of getting fed up and attacking the warlord, which was Admiral Hackett's idea in the first place.
    • Almost all ways of solving problems nonviolently using renegade options, especially in Mass Effect 2, such as getting past a guard, or having someone reveal information. Sometimes it crosses into Badass Boast territory.
    • The fluff text for one small planet reveals that multiple krogan warlords all tried to do this at the same meeting. The resulting fight resulted in all of the warlords' deaths.
    • Played with in "The Miracle of Palaven" in the third game. One of the Reapers' strategies to make conquest easier is to pretend to open peace negotiations (on-board the Reaper) with whatever leaders the enemy has left. The goal in this case is not to kill those leaders, but to indoctrinate them, allowing the Reapers to easily destroy resistances from the inside-out. The turians were too savvy to fall for this, but played along for a bit... then the "leaders" they sent in for negotiations detonated the bombs they'd brought with them, leading to the destruction of several Reaper capital ships.
  • Evoked for laughs in Sam & Max: Freelance Police. Max, President Evil of the United States, uses his Peacemaker (gun) to ensure successful Peace Summits. In the end, Max is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace!
  • BattleTech:
    • MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries has a mission where player is asked to stand honor guard during the peace talks. It doesn't take long for the enemy army to suddenly bust in with a large group of mechs, and the player is asked to help protect the peace delegates. Brought your most glamorous, but useless in combat mech with you? Too bad.
    • MechCommander has an "honor guard" scene similar to the Mercenaries example above. Blindingly obvious, since your tactical officer says that they don't expect any trouble.
  • Suikoden:
    • Suikoden II: After defeating Luca Blight, suddenly the successor of Highland throne, Jowy Blight, invites the protagonist (his former best friend) to a peace treaty, possibly ending the war quicker than expected. When the protagonist arrives there, turns out Jowy has prepared a few crossbowmen ready to shoot them in case the protagonist refuses the proposal of "The City-States of Jowston will completely surrender to Highland." Thanks to Viktor and the impromptu strategy of Shu, the protagonist escapes unharmed, but the war continues as a result.
    • Suikoden III opens with uneasy peace negotiations between the Grassland clans and the Zexen Confederacy, with Hugo delivering a message to the capital, only to get jerked around, ignored, and ultimately attacked when the Jerkass Zexen Council decides he'd make a good hostage. Escaping that, he makes it home just in time to see his home being burned to the ground.
  • Ratchet & Clank weapons sometimes imply this trope as a pun — notably, The Negotiator rocket launcher, and its upgraded form, The Arbiter. Said to quickly conclude legal disputes across the galaxy!
  • In the Touhou Project series, any disagreement is settled with a danmaku duel - even such petty things as whether to use red or white miso for a hot pot. Yuyuko seems to like inserting an obligatory Boss Battle into a scene that would otherwise have ended peacefully.
  • In the backstory of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the terms of the Treaty of Coruscant that ended (for now) the war between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire were essentially dictated to the Republic by the Sith in this manner. After taking control of much of the galaxy by force, the Sith asked for an armistice and a negotiated end to the fighting. The fighting did stop, but only temporarily; during the negotiations on Alderaan, the Sith launched a sneak attack on the Republic capital of Coruscant and took control of it, forcing the delegation on Alderaan to accept a treaty whose terms were highly favorable to the Sith Empire. The plot for the Karraga's Palace operationnote  involves this trope as well.
  • Sacrifice:
    • Playing Persephone's campaign leads to this as all of her 'homeland assaults' on the other gods start out as diplomacy missions that go sour when the other party tries to kill you. So you have to kill them instead to leave.
    • Similarly, Charnel's fourth mission is a diplomatic envoy to Pyro. Charnel advises you to focus on slaying and banishing Ambassador Bhuta, to impress Pyro with your strength and make him deign to accept Charnel's envoys. This works because, In-Universe, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for wizards who champion the five gods. When a third party consisting of two allied wizards serving Stratos and Persephone interrupts, you and Bhuta instead team up to fight them off together — even then, your optional mission for a special reward is to have a higher kill counter at the level's end than Bhuta.
  • Warcraft III: The second mission starts with Uther telling Arthas he sent two of his best knights to negotiate an orc tribe's surrender. Cue two horses returning, pointedly missing their riders.
  • Final Fantasy VIII: Rinoa states that as soon as the party's ready, she'll begin "serious negotiations" with the Galbadian president, Vinzer Deling. In turn, Galbadia anticipated the kidnapping and turned a zombie bioweapon into a decoy, with orders to mock any terrorist entering his train car, and then turn their interrogation scene into a horror movie.
    Squall: [facepalming] "Serious negotiations"... Better make sure my GF's equipped...
  • Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood:
    • When Lyse invites the leaders of Gyr Abania’s communities to a conference where they’ll discuss the future of the newly-liberated Ala Mhigo, the Primal-worshipping Qalyana Ananta hatch a complex plan to smuggle crystals into the conference room so they can summon their goddess Lakshmi during the conference and brainwash all the attendees, with Qalyana warriors and brainwashed Resistance fighters waiting just outside the conference room to kill anyone who tries to flee. The plan is only thwarted by the timely intervention of the Warrior of Light and a penitent Fordola.
    • It happens a second time with the Garleans. An ambassador of a less warmongering faction of the empire comes to negotiate a trade of war prisoners between them and Doma as a show of peace. While the ambassador, Asahi, does hold up his end of the bargain, he also uses the opportunity to smuggle in a bunch of crystals so that his sister Yotsuyu can summon the moon goddess Tsukuyomi unto herself to fight the Warrior of Light, then use the fact that a Doman had summoned a Primal to convince the emperor to go to war with Doma once more. The fact that he was the one who brought the crystals and that the primal was summoned under his orders are irrelevant. Though Yotsuyu ends up shish-kebabing Asahi on her swords, and his assistants actually being truthful in their want for peace, Asahi's plot works due to Ascian influence.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sunrider:
    • Several of Kryska's battle quotes reference this trope, particularly the ones that play when she successfully hits an enemy unit.
      "Weaponized diplomacy was successful!"
      "Surrender, or I will resume hostilities."
      "Do you still refuse to negotiate?"
    • In Sunrider Liberation Day, the titular Liberation Day ceremony is meant to serve as a peace conference between the Solar Alliance and PACT following the defeat of PACT’s Prototype-led hardliner faction, but it quickly becomes a bloodbath when a third party hijacks the hero of the hour and turns a bunch of machinegun-equipped Spider Tanks loose on the audience. Both sides—who didn’t trust each other to begin with—blame each other for the massacre, and the war escalates, just as the third party planned.

  • In the DM of the Rings, the unnamed DM becomes rather upset at the heroes for killing Saruman, Grima, and the Mouth of Sauron in parley.
    Aragorn: Yeah, let's speed this up. [kills the Mouth of Sauron]
    DM: What? You attack him? During parley? This is the third time you've killed someone during negotiations!
    Legolas: And they keep falling for it! It's hilarious!
    DM: You're supposed to be a king! Can't you at least pretend to be one for a few seconds?
    Aragorn: If I hadn't shot him Legolas would have.
    Legolas: He's right, too. I was just about to announce my attack.
  • Darths & Droids: Naturally, Jim is fond of this trope. Although he claims to need a laser blaster to properly negotiate, because the lightsaber's reach isn't good enough.
  • Problem Sleuth: Spoofed; "Sleuth Diplomacy" is only an increasingly indefensible euphemism for canned whoop-ass. Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant, and the only time he actually has to negotiate he cheats.
  • In Goblins, Thaco and Goblinslayer meet in a parley. Goblinslayer plans from the very beginning to kill Thaco instead of negotiating. However, Thaco uses Goblinslayer's pride to his own advantage by challenging him to a single combat, preferably somewhere everyone can see them, causing him to be removed from the place where the actual battle was going on.
    Goblinslayer: You three bowmen will accompany me.
    Guard: Sir, it could be a trap.
    Goblinslayer: That's imposs—
    Goblinslayer: You six bowmen will accompany me.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • According to the prequel book, this happened to the Dark One. He was assassinated when a few human kings pretended to be willing to negotiate with him, hoping to decapitate his army. Instead, his army rampaged across several human kingdoms for more than a year, killing more than 1 million humans in revenge before ultimately being defeated. As for the Dark One, the blood spilled in his name caused him to ascended to godhood and he now wants to invoke this trope on the other gods with the Snarl as his weapon.
    • This also happens in Book 7 when Durkon decides to convince Redcloak to save the world. While at first the discussion is civilized, Redcloak decides the deal doesn't satisfy his Sunk Cost Fallacy. He eventually decides to try and kill Durkon, because he's come too far to betray Xykon now.
  • A frequent occurrence in Schlock Mercenary, particularly when an Attorney Drone is involved.
    Reinstein: Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on topic.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: During King of Swords, Mottom and Mammon begin the second Concordance by openly attacking each other. Given they are both God Emperors in the 'would survive a point-blank nuke to the face' category of toughness, the fact that their attacks are strong enough to blow up the heads of bystanders and melt holes in solid stone means nothing, and one of them implies it's a form of diplomacy after their recent fallout.

    Western Animation 
  • Lampshaded in Beast Wars, when Megatron and Optimus meet to discuss a truce.
    Optimus: When Predacons talk peace, it just means they need time to reload their weapons.
    Megatron: Under normal circumstances, yes.
  • Given a literal parody in Futurama. In "Saturday Morning Fun Pit", a parody of old-school cartoons using Futurama characters, Moral Guardians demand that President Nixon do something about the horrible violence in the G.I. Joe parody G.I. Zapp. Nixon proceeds to hastily edit the latest episode, including redubbing the opening volley of the Cobra parody troops as "Ready... Aim... Negotiate!"

    Real Life 
  • Colonial powers throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries commonly used this ploy to draw native leaders out, only to capture or kill them.
  • Asking for negotiations as a ploy to draw them out and slaughter them is a very old tactic. For example, the Roman general Servius Sulpicius Galba did it to Lusitania after the last Carthaginian war. He promised them that if they would surrender peacefully and come hand in their weapons, they could be buddies. The result? About 20,000 Lusitanians were slaughtered and many others were sold as slaves to the Gauls. This backfired horribly because a Lusitanian named Viriathus survived it and proceeded to very successfully wage war against Rome until he was betrayed and murdered by some of his own people.
  • Another common historical tactic was to dictate a treaty, in the words of Steven Decatur, "from the mouths of our cannon".
  • Considering how often negotiations come at the end of a war (i.e. when one side has already been beaten into submission), this is a very common trope in real life.
  • The Mongols were renowned in ancient times for their aversion of this trope; they believed very strongly in Diplomatic Immunity for both sides of the equation, and if they called you out to negotiate that was all they were going to do (for today). The main reason the Mongol Empire started its westward expansion into Persia was that the Khwarezmian Empire (which ruled most of Persia and western Central Asia at the time) mistreated a Mongol messenger. The messenger was just there to open diplomatic ties and trade relations; when the Khwarezmian governor responded with aggressive negotiations instead, the Mongols responded by destroying Khwarezm and conquering Persia in a matter of just a few years.
  • Bourbon cannons had the logo Ultima Ratio Regum (final argument of kings).
  • Sun Tzu recommends this as one of many stratagems in The Art of War.
  • Quoth Marine General James Mattis: "I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
  • Theodore Roosevelt, who essentially boiled down America's Foreign Policy to "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick." It's little changed in the modern world where anyone wishing to negotiate with America keeps in mind that they control 11 of 13 of the world's supercarriers (with the United Kingdom, a close US ally, controlling the other two). The phrase is so associated with Roosevelt that the call sign of USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class supercarrier, is "Big Stick."
    • Prior to this, there was the literal Trope Namer for Gunboat Diplomacy when Admiral Perry visited Japan and rather pointedly "asked" that they open up trade with the US - nevermind that massive ship in the harbor.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. once said "a riot is the language of the unheard", referring to the idea that if peaceful protests are ignored, many will feel that this trope is the only option they have. This was proven directly after King's assassination, as over 100 cities across the United States erupted into six days of full-scale riots (and over a month of more sporadic violence) until the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed, with President Lyndon Johnson weighing in on the bill's creation and passage very directly. While he was still alive, he made a point of saying that if the US government did not want to make a deal with him, they would be forced to instead make a deal with Malcolm X or some other similarly aggressive civil rights leader.
  • Sam Peckinpah tried to do this when negotiating to direct Superman: The Movie. When negotiations with the Salkinds started going south, Peckinpah brandished a pistol and threatened Ilya Salkind's life with it. Unsurprisingly, he didn't make the cut.
  • The Bolsheviks did this to the Ukrainian anarchists led by Nestor Makhno during the Russian Civil War. Twenty years later, Spanish anarchists and non-Stalinist communists would be betrayed by the Spanish Republican Government in order to stifle the growing revolution during the Spanish Civil War.

Alternative Title(s): Cowboy Diplomacy