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Friendly Fire Index
aka: Friendly Fire

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"Friendly fire, isn't."
Murphy's Law of Combat Operations

Combat or other dangerous elements in a setting or plot conflict increase the drama by exponentially increasing the danger to the characters. But sometimes that danger comes from an unexpected angle. You look up to see who is on the other end of the knife you've just been stabbed with... and it's your best friend!?! This sort of thing can occur by accident, by treachery, or, perhaps most tragically, because they had to.

In Real Life, friendly fire usually occurs as a case of mistaken identity: innocent civilians, allies, or neutral forces, are mistaken for enemy forces and fired upon, or else the attacker simply didn't know the friendly unit was in the line of fire. While it might be hard enough to imagine the horror of killing someone you like accidentally, in fiction, to play the drama up even more, the attacker often is all too aware of what they are doing.

Given the tropes themselves tend to be fairly broad, there may be some overlap in a given situation depending on the perspective. For instance, even if the person pulling the trigger makes a genuine mistake, they might have been manipulated into doing so by a third party deliberately seeking to cause harm.

Note: Please place non-trope examples in the sub-tropes listed rather than listing them here.

There are many forms of Friendly Fire, from nastiest to least nasty:

Deliberately, out of a callous disregard for life (note: doing any of these invariably marks you as a villain or Anti-Hero):

  • Bad Boss: A character who mistreats his own minions for trivial reasons.
  • Disposable Intern: The intern is so unimportant killing them doesn't matter.
  • Kick the Dog: Commit an unnecessary evil act to show the audience you're not nice.
  • Ordered to Die: Ordering an underling to kill themselves as a show of authority.
  • We Have Reserves: Callously place minions in a situation where they will be slaughtered, as part of a strategy.

Deliberately, out of treachery:

Deliberately, due to being faced with a choice between evils:

Due to an error in judgement:

Completely unintentional:

  • Cartwright Curse: A character's love interests have a high mortality rate, through no fault of their own.
  • Collateral Damage: A character intends to shoot one thing, but ends up hitting someone or something else.
  • Dangerous Backswing: Unintentionally hitting an ally with the backswing of a large melee weapon.
  • Friendly Target: By choosing to face an enemy, a character places his friends in danger.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Mishandling a weapon and forgetting about gun safety.

Other Related Tropes:

  • Friendly Fireproof: An attack that doesn't hit allies even when it logically should.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: The speaker intends to insult someone they don't like, but insults a friend instead.

Alternative Title(s): Friendly Fire