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Kill on Sight

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This trope covers any situation in which open season is declared on a individual or group of individuals, be it heroic or villainous.

Often the reasons behind this decision are as significant a plot point as the proclamation itself. Insisting on this policy can make people question a villain with otherwise good publicity. A clear villain doing this can also unwittingly emphasize the size of threat the person or group being targeted represents. If a "Wanted!" Poster is involved, it may read as only "dead" instead of "dead or alive", and can also serve as an example of Price on Their Head. If those being targeted are viewed as Always Chaotic Evil, whether that turns out to truly be the case may depend on the alignment of those giving or carrying out the order. In a Crapsack World, this can also highlight the level of paranoia a person or people are held under. Seeing this done by someone on the Good Guys' side could be them deciding I Did What I Had to Do or an acknowledgement that whatever they're facing is so dangerous or has otherwise escalated such that ideals like Thou Shalt Not Kill are unattainable in that particular case.

Compare Leave No Survivors and Shoot Everything That Moves, which is this trope on a broader, less-discriminating scale.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Elfen Lied opens with Lucy having Escaped from the Lab, killing twenty three guards in the process. Since she is so dangerous, the search party is instructed to kill her on sight.
  • Naruto: Inverted with the future Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, during the Third Shinobi World War. He was so badass that enemy countries ordered their troops to flee whenever he was sighted on the the battlefield.
  • In One Piece, this is inverted with Sanji's "Wanted!" Poster immediately following Dressrosa, which reads as "Only Alive" instead of "Dead or Alive" like other criminals. It's because his estranged father - a rather influential person - has arranged it so that Sanji could be brought to him because he needs Sanji for an Arranged Marriage with one of notorious pirate Big Mom's daughters.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, the Book of Dragons describe every dragon depicted as dangerous and should be killed on sight. The only exception is the Night Fury which the books says you must hide from.
  • Pocahontas: Governor Ratcliffe declares that "anyone who doesn't shoot an Indian on sight shall be charged with treason and hanged!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman. When Dirty Cop Lieutenant Eckhardt leads the Gotham police officers into Axis Chemicals, he shows them a picture of Jack Napier, who Carl Grissom wants dead for canoodling with his mistress Alicia, and tells them "Shoot to kill. Know what I mean?" When Commissioner Gordon arrives on the scene, he immediately takes over command of the cops from Eckhardt, telling everyone that he wants Napier taken alive and that any man who opens fire on Napier will answer to him.
  • The Fugitive: After the One-Armed-Man kills a police officer during a battle with Kimble, Deputy Marshall Gerard bemoans the fact that since Kimble is now accused of being a Cop Killer, that means the Chicago Police will shoot to kill if they find him.
  • The Gauntlet has Detective Shockley sent to Las Vegas to extradite a witness to Phoenix. However, the witness can identify The Mole within the police department, so mob assassins all aim to silence her. Further, The Mole convinces the Phoenix police that Shockley has gone rogue, and must be taken down with extreme prejudice.
  • Judge Dredd. After Dredd escapes the crashed Aspen Shuttle, Judge Griffin orders the Capture Team to kill him.
  • Star Wars Revenge of the Sith has Emperor Palpatine issue the fateful "General Order 66" to all clone commanders, which is a "kill all Jedi on sight" directive. This is a subversion of the Imperial Senate's directive to apprehend the Jedi Knights after Master Mace Windu had deduced Palpatine as the Sith Master and had tried to vanquish him.

    Literature 
  • 1632: After the Battle of the Crapper, the mercenaries who don't pass Gretchen's examination are exiled from American territory. Before they're sent off, they're photographed and the pictures put on posters reading "Wanted — Dead".
  • By the fifth book of the Safehold series, How Firm a Foundation, the Church of God Awaiting's Inquistion has caused numerous atrocities. Their forcing honorably surrendered Charisian prisoners to be turned over to them for Cold-Blooded Torture and execution serves as the last straw for the Empire of Charis, who announce from that moment forward that, while any rank-and-file soldiers can surrender and expect honorable treatment, Inquisitors will be shown no quarter. The best they can hope for after that is to renounce their service to the Grand Inquisitor, at which point they'll stand trial for any crimes they committed rather than be executed outright.
  • In Warrior Cats, occasionally a leader will order that if a particular cat is found in their Clan's territory, they should be killed on sight: this includes when Tigerclaw is exiled from ThunderClan for murder, and when Graystripe is exiled from RiverClan for betraying them during battle to save Fireheart's life.
  • In Fredric Brown's What Mad Universe, the parallel universe's humanity is engaged in a war with an alien race. Any time an agent of theirs is spotted, a description is passed to the population and everyone knows to kill on sight. A dozen innocents die each time, but due to the aliens' abilities, there is no alternative.
  • In The Wolf Chronicles, when Kaala is (temporarily) exiled from her pack in the first book, Ruuqo informs her that if she's found in the territory after that, she'll be killed on sight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Broca Divide", after an offworld virus breaks out at Stargate Command, General Hammond requests that the military cordon off the mountain with an armored division and that anyone attempting to leave be shot on sight and the body burned.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, adventure "The Harder They Clone". When The Computer learns that Bill-Y-IDL is part of the conspiracy, it announces over the Complex-wide PA system "Bill-Y-IDL is a traitor! Terminate on sight!"

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, this is what happens to Hawke's secret informant within the Grey Wardens (depending on the world state, Stroud, Alistair, or Loghain). After he publicly challenges the Orlesian Warden-Commander Clarel's new policies, he is branded a traitor to be killed on sight by other Wardens. This forces him into hiding, where the Inquisition has to find him in order to discover the nature of said policies.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: The only town available in the early game is Los Santos, trying to get into the other towns gets an instant four-star wanted level with cops pursuing and trying to shoot you down. The ingame explanation is that there's an earthquake warning.
  • In Tales of Berseria, daemons are considered Always Chaotic Evil creatures that kill humans on sight. For this reason, Exorcists recruited by the Abbey (the only beings with the power and authority to fight daemons) have a standing decree to kill them on sight. The events of the game, however, reveal that daemons are NOT universally evil (although usually hostile or bitter), and when a high-ranking Exorcist learns that the Abbey sometimes takes daemons captive, it comes as a shock and makes several characters question their motives.
  • The backstory of Undertale, as learned in the Neutral and Pacifist runs, reveals that the monsters' king, Asgore, declared that any humans who appeared in the Underground are to be killed following the death of his son at human hands. He regrets the decree immediately once he calms down, but by that point it's too late to rescind the order.
  • In XCOM 2 this is how ADVENT reacts to any resistance members when not conducting house arrests to arrest collaborators... who implicitly just get put through a Kangaroo Court and, after brutal interrogation, end up executed or worse. You can even find wanted holograms of your top soldiers from your curent, or previous game.

    Webcomics 
  • In Charby the Vampirate Daray's parents issue a kill on sight bounty on him after he proves a disappointment by not murdering any dragons, which is considered a traditional coming of age right in their village, being mistaken for trans by his homophobic father after a magical mishap temporarily enlarges his chest, for which they disown him, and setting their house on fire as a birthday present to himself.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation policy on Reality Benders is straightforward: "kill that motherfucker before he knows you're even there." Their process for training people to face Reality Benders consists of getting them so high on drugs they'll believe anything they're told, then telling them things like the doors and windows have vanished and desks are going to kill them. It's the closest they can come to a Reality Bender attack without an actual Reality Bender, and they encourage their hunters to remember this moment if they ever think a Reality Bender can be contained or otherwise reasoned with.
  • Worm: The Slaughterhouse Nine have a Kill On Sight order because they are incredibly and horrifyingly destructive supervillains. Unfortunately it is easier said than done.

    Western Animation 
  • Drip Along Daffy: Implied with wanted outlaw Nasty Canasta, who is standing right next to a "Wanted!" Poster that reads "WANTED: DEAD" on his Establishing Character Moment. Unfortunately for Daffy, he's such an incredibly badass man that when Daffy tries to draw on him, he literally eats Daffy's guns.
  • The Shattering Robonoids from Steven Universe patrol Homeworld's underbelly, searching for Off Colors, defective Gems, and fugitives on the run. If one scans for and finds a Gem's gem, it fires a blast that can make a sizeable hole in rock.

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