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Conversation Casualty

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"I offer this advice to you two: If you're going to destroy something... do it mid-dialogue. They always expect you to finish talking first."

Bob and Alice are having a fairly mundane conversation. Bob stares absentmindedly out the window, and Alice is walking around the room behind him. Without changing the tone of her voice or the subject of the conversation, Alice picks up a gun, walks up to Bob and shoots him.

This trope could be used for several reasons: to establish a creepily detached mood, to reveal a traitor, to portray a character as deranged, detached from villainy, lethally pragmatic, a dog-kicker, or to show they long since crossed the Moral Event Horizon. For an extra bit of twist, the one doing the shooting isn't necessarily the deranged one with the one being shot having said something to convince the other person that they are too dangerous to live.

Compare Killed Mid-Sentence. It can lead to Mood Dissonance.

Sister Trope to Talk to the Fist, where the attack isn't necessarily lethal and the talking is related to the fight. Compare Have You Told Anyone Else?. Not to be confused with Talking the Monster to Death or Logic Bomb.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Futagami does this in RahXephon when the tells Bahbem "Well good for you!" as he's listening to him congratulate himself on the completion of his master plan... then shoots him.
  • Seishirou in Tokyo Babylon and then in X1999. Or, second thought, the whole cast of X. They fight while exchanging pleasantries all the time. Seishirou is especially bad, though. See the end of Tokyo Babylon. He'd kill someone while wondering aloud about tomorrow's weather or something. Or how cigarettes can kill you. (he did this)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Die Hard, when the terrorists enter the Nakatomi tower, they seem to be casually talking about the Los Angeles Lakers, the discussion is a distraction to let them get close to the receptionist and kill him, along with a Bond One-Liner:
    Theo: Boom, two points!
  • Francis Walsingham in Elizabeth pulls a reversal of this on a young man guarding him after a few philosophical words on the ugliness of the world. Walsingham is philosophizing while looking out the window when the young man pulls a knife on him. He then calmly talks the man out of stabbing him, gets him to look out the window himself, then calmly slits his throat without changing the tone of his voice.
  • In Gigli, Al Pacino's Italian-Jewish mob boss (Starkman) lulls his henchman into a state of complacency, then asks him if he'd like to "go to medical school?" Bang.
  • In L.A. Confidential, Dudley Smith shoots Jack Vincennes mid-conversation without so much as a word of warning.
  • The Matrix. Cypher is brought back to the Nebuchadnezzar, talks to Tank for a while and then shoots him in the back with a Lightning Gun.
  • In Mulholland Dr., a hitman and his alleged friend are having a cheerful talk in an office, when former draws a silenced gun and puts a bullet through his pal's temple.
  • In Pulp Fiction, while Justin Whaley's character is trying to explain away his and his cohorts' actions, Jules casually walks up to one of the cohorts and shoots him.
    Jules: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?
  • In the opening scene of Sin City, when Josh Hartnett's character embraces the Lady in Red and confesses his love to her and then kills her with his silenced gun the very next moment.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: the T-1000, disguised as John's foster mother, is talking to him on the phone, when the foster father interrupts her about their madly barking dog in the backyard. It promptly skewers him through the mouth with its morphing swordlike arm.
  • There Will Be Blood. Daniel Plainview wakes up the man who claims to be his brother, and forces him at gunpoint to say who he really is. During the man's confession, Daniel puts away the gun. When the man is done explaining himself, however, Daniel unexpectedly draws the gun again and kills him.
  • In True Lies, Harry Tasker test drives a used car with the lot owner, Simon. Harry gets Simon talking about the woman he seeing (Simon doesn't know the woman he's seeing is this guy's wife) and then kills him with one well-placed backhand. A moment later, we see it was in an Indulgent Fantasy Segue.

  • American Psycho - Patrick Bateman certainly contemplates taking a cordless drill to the head of a lady he's chatting up.
    • Also Played With in the movie when Bateman continues talking to his drunk/drugged soon-to-be-victim about retro music while putting newspapers around him, putting on a raincoat, and finally killing him with a huge fire axe.
    Paul Allen: Is that a rain coat?
    Patrick Bateman: Yes it is!
  • In The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe overhears a conversation with Harry Jones, an informant, and a gangster named Canino. Canino makes sure Harry has a good stiff drink— which is poisoned.
  • The Black Box: Drummond the criminal mastermind and Banks his Mook have tied up Detective Harry Bosch in the barn. Banks, calling Drummond by his old National Guard nickname of "Drummer", asks why Drummond wanted to hide Bosch's car. Drummond says "Reggie, I told you not to call me that," and shoots him in the head. Bosch is shocked not only at the murder, but how Drummond didn't even look at Banks, instead keeping his eyes on Bosch the whole time.
  • In Bored of the Rings, Pepsi draws a map of Lower Middle Earth for a narc named Goulash, desperately interrogating them about the whereabouts of the Ring. Goulash, having only one hand by this point and being Too Dumb to Live, lets Pepsi use his sword as a pointer. This geographical explanation proceeds as follows:
    "Now these are the Mealey Mountains, and this is the Effluvium," said Pepsi, scratching the ground with the sharp point of the shiny blade.
    "Krishna rimsky-korsakov!"
    "... and this is the Great Turnpath ..."
    "Grackle borgward!"
    "... and this is your gallbladder, right above your chitlins!"
    "Gork!" objected the narc as he fell to earth, opened from end to end like a pillow case.
  • This happens in the end of Of Mice and Men. George is calmly talking to Lennie about the farm they've always dreamed of; he asks Lennie to close his eyes while talking, and George pulls out a gun and shoots him in the head. A non-villainous version, as George is doing this so that Lennie will die calm and happy.
  • In Vigilauntie Justice, the Deptford Crafting Cirle kills all of their victims while the circle talks to them. The crafting circle uses these conversations to confirm that their indended victim is guilty and intends to continue their crimes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The pilot episode of The Sopranos had one of these. Christopher Moltisanti shoots Emil Kolar in the back of the head after a while of polite discussion.
  • A sympathetic variant in The Vampire Diaries - Rose is already dying, having been bitten by a werewolf; Damon gives her a Dying Dream of her human life centuries ago, during which he challenges her to a race. He stakes her during the countdown.

  • In Pippin, Pippin, disguised as a monk, kills his father Charles at the end of a conversation about the meaning of empire. Subverted in many productions that have Charles recognize that his son has come to kill him and even help him do it. (He does get better later in the show.)

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Bushido Blade: the final boss doesn't actually draw his sword until he's done monologuing, so while it's possible to kill him at any time, invoking this trope would be indirectly considered a dishonorable act (killing an unarmed opponent), netting you an NSGO instead of an actual ending for your troubles getting there.
  • In the NES game Day Dreamin' Davey, many knights in the Medieval stages can talk in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe and give out info before Davey can kill them.
  • In Nimdok's scenario in the videogame adaptation of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Nimdok can talk with the anesthetist who wants him to perform mundane operations on a child, but after getting info from the anesthetist, he can exit the conversation without performing the operation, then grab the scalpel near him and kill the anesthetist with it. Given the anesthetist was trying to get Nimdok to perform a surgery that would cripple a child for life, Nimdok would the hero in this scenario.
  • Mass Effect — This is how the conversation between Nihlus and Saren goes.
    • It is possible to end one subquest in Mass Effect 2 by talking to a mechanic repairing a plot-important weapon, asking him about what is going on and then ending the chat by stabbing one of his electric tools into his back.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], General Peter Randall performs this via Boom, Headshot! on a rogue colonel near the climax of the game. Given that said colonel happens to be a shapeshifting viral monstrosity taking his form, this is of limited effectiveness.