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Simple Solution Won't Work

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"For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Occam's Razor can sometimes backfire: the simplest solution might not be that simple to carry out, isn't actually that simple to begin with, too costly or ignores several problems, is entirely too ruthless for the characters, is frowned upon by the beings that set the situation - with extreme prejudice, or is only simple for the person suggesting it while greatly complicating things for the other people involved (whether or not said complication is evidence of them being selfish depends on the writer). Alternatively, the person receiving the suggestion might reply that they already tried it and it didn't work.

Often a rebuttal to Stating the Simple Solution, Cutting the Knot, Cut the Juice, Mundane Solution, Murder Is the Best Solution, Just Eat Gilligan, or Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, and is often stated in the work to make sure even the dullest of viewers gets it. Adaptation Explanation Extrication may lead to this (the reason behind something not working may be explained in the original work but not the adaptation). Supertrope of No "Police" Option, where the simple solution of "sit back and let the police investigation solve this" (or sometimes just plain "call the police!") falls under this trope.

May result in Take a Third Option. Compare God's Hands Are Tied, where a supremely powerful character is unable to use his power to resolve the situation. May be a reason for Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: simply killing a tyrant doesn't necessarily inactivate the regime they're in charge of. Superficial Solution may be one reason it won't work. Also an occasional response to a Combat Pragmatist (sure, kicking the Big Bad in the balls and shooting him in the head is a more fun way to get rid of him, but it's not the best one. Sorry, dude).

Characters attempting the simple solution that they were told wouldn't work and encountering complications in the process may result in the ironies of A Simple Plan and Shortcuts Make Long Delays ensuing.

See also Rule of Drama, Conflict Ball, Watsonian vs. Doylist, Smoking Gun Control, Bellisario's Maxim, and MST3K Mantra, where the real reason the simple solution can't be used is because otherwise there'd be no plot. See also It Only Works Once when someone wonders why a solution that worked well the first time isn't used again.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You:
    • In chapter 34, Karane suggests that Hahari could use her authority as the school chairwoman to prevent the baseball club from being disbanded. Hahari refuses to give the club any special treatment since she would have to do the same for all the other school clubs in order to avoid playing favorites.
    • After Rentarou secured 18 girlfriends, he goes to the shrine of the Love god that "granted" him the 100 soulmates boon. While the god is remorseful, he asks why Rentarou simply doesn't tell his soulmates that they need to be coupled with him for the sake of their life (as if they make eye contact but the girl truly rejects Rentarou for any reason, the bad karma from doing so will kill her). Rentarou responds that if he did, he'd basically be coercing all of his girlfriends into a relationship regardless of their wishes, and he'd rather be in a relationship where they want to stay with him naturally.
    • At least one of Rentarou's soulmates started out as someone who he had to confront over problems with another girlfriend. But despite his harem including former enemies, not every woman he meets is one of his soulmates, and so he can't expect to resolve all of his issues by having female enemies fall in love with him.
  • Bakugan: Episode 31 of New Vestroia has the Resistance discussing with Klaus as to how they can track down the Mother Palace (the Vexos' base of operations). Marucho comes up with the idea to modify Klaus's transdimensional communicator to identify and track dimensional anomalies so that it will be easier to track down the Vexos’ hideout by figuring out where it is they are teleporting to Earth from. Klaus however expresses that doing something like that would be technologically impossible, with Sirenoid claiming that it would be like trying to modify a microwave to cut grass.
    Sirenoid: Just because they're both pieces of machinery it doesn't mean they can be used for the same purpose.
  • Blue Seed: An example in which this trope is a very important plot point. If Momiji Fujimiya is sacrificed or assassinated, the Arigami go away. The problem then becomes that the Arigami have constantly come back through the millennia, so sacrificing Momiji is not a permanent solution. Furthermore, there's ways Momiji can die that wouldn't affect the Arigami. Because of this, the members of TAC spend the series seeking a more effective alternative, while constantly fending off Arigami rampages and people trying to kill Momiji (both to try to save Japan and to get rid of the filth mankind has plastered on Japan).
  • Code Geass: The protagonist Lelouch Lamperouge has the capacity to brainwash a person with a single Irrevocable Order (the titular "Geass") that cannot be resisted and his best friend Suzaku is a soldier of the Britannian military and pilot of the Super Prototype Humongous Mecha which has been the thorn in the side of Lelouch's resistance for a while now. Shortly after Lelouch figures this out, his confidante C.C. bluntly asks Lelouch why not just brainwash Suzaku and make him pilot for the resistance, but she follows up by wondering if it's Lelouch's pride, sentimentality, or distaste for robbing another person of their free will that fuels his reluctance; Lelouch responds that it's all three. note 
  • During the Cell Arc in Dragon Ball Z, after first meeting the biomechanical android from the future, Krillin asks if it would help to head to Dr. Gero's laboratory where Cell's embryonic self was being cultivated and stop him from being created. Trunks, however, points out that with how different the rules of time travel were than he thought, destroying the present-day Cell wouldn't erase the Cell that came back in time. Nevertheless, they go to the lab and destroy the embryo to prevent the Z Fighters from dealing with another Cell in the future.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: The girls are fighting against Beatrice, who has installed a class card that gives her access to Thor's hammer Mjölnir, thus making her a far superior opponent to themselves. In the Nasuverse, it's a well-established fact that a way to defeat a summoned spirit (whether it's a Heroic Spirit or a Divine Spirit) is to recreate the conditions of their death as that's their conceptual weakness, so they decide to do that on Beatrice since she now has all of Thor's properties. They poison her, and then force her to take seven steps backwards, which is how Thor died... And it doesn't work because even though Mjölnir is Thor's Signature Weapon, he wasn't the only one to ever wield it. The class card Beatrice uses actually grants her the power of Thor's son, Magni. This means that they have to beat Beatrice the hard way.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed and Al lost things as payment for trying to resurrect their mother, with Ed losing a leg, and Al losing his entire body, with Ed having to attach Al's soul to a suit of armor at the cost of his arm. While trying to find a way to return to normal, they originally attempt to hunt down a Philosopher's Stone- a mythical item capable of amplifying alchemy and bypassing Equivalent Exchange. However, while this would be an easy solution, given they learn the recipe for the stones early on, the brothers are forced to reject it as Philosopher's Stones are horrifically unethical to make, with their main ingredient being live humans.
  • My Hero Academia: During the battle against All For One, Monoma copies Warp Gate to separate the villains by teleporting them vast distances apart. Unfortunately, Midoriya is yanked through the wrong portal, stranding him miles from UA, where he's supposed to fight Shigaraki. Midoriya requests a portal to just send him to the correct battlefield, only to learn it can't be done because Monoma, who can't use multiple powers at once, is busy using Erasure to prevent Shigaraki from using his Quirks, and the villain has suddenly grown numerous fingers. So if he stops to create a portal, Decay will activate and kill everyone there.
  • One Piece:
    • While discussing how to enter the Grand Line, Zoro suggests that instead of bothering with Reverse Mountain (Which would require sailing up a downward river) they just enter the sea route from any point in the route's side. It's quickly explained why this won't work; The sides of the Grand Line are "Calm Belts" that have no current, no wind, but lots and lots of giant sea monsters. How big are these monsters? One's so big it can balance the ship on its nose.
    • Vivi hopes to stop the war in Alabasta between the royal army and the rebel army by telling rebel leader Kohza, an old friend of hers, that Sir Crocodile has been the one orchestrating events to make her father King Cobra look like a tyrant. Except Crocodile has numerous backup contingencies to keep the conflict going without Kohza, including Agent Provocateurs planted in both armies and a subordinate who can shapeshift into King Cobra to continue angering the population. Luffy refuses to go along with Vivi's plan because he knows that the only way to stop the war is to focus on taking down Crocodile's organization Baroque Works so they can't keep interfering.
  • One Pound Gospel: The main conflict in the story is that Kosaku loves food so much, he struggles to maintain his weight class. The Yashamaru arc demonstrates why he can't just go up a few weight classes; weight classes are meant to measure muscle, not fat. When Kosaku forgoes his diet, the excess flab slows down his punches considerably.
  • Patlabor: "Elusive Green" deals with a highway construction project stymied by on-site trouble, rumored to be a result of local oni being displeased with the plan to cut down a sacred tree. Both Asuma and a local man suggest diverting the highway further south, but the general contractor complains that if he could do that, he already would have (it's implied the higher-ups won't budge on the route, consequences be damned).
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: When Madoka asks Homura why she didn't just tell everyone the Awful Truth about becoming Magical Girls when trying to dissuade her from it and coming into conflict with the others, Homura explains they wouldn't believe her as it happened when she tried telling them before. That was when she told Madoka and the others in a prior timeline, where in addition to not believing her until it was too late, learning it caused Mami to snap and try to Mercy Kill everyone. After countless timelines where such simple fixes failed, Homura gave up trying to explain things.
  • Soul Hunter: When Chou Koumei goes One-Winged Angel and turns into a giant plant, Youzen first thinks about just burning the roots to kill it, but realizes that Plant Chou Koumei can spread seeds and grow faster than he burns, thus they need to destroy the whole thing in one blow to defeat him. Taikoubou does it by using Suupuushan new Super Mode to fly to the part of the atmosphere where the atmosphere is the coldest, and combining the power of said super mode and his newly upgraded dashinben to summon a massive tornado to freeze all of it.
  • World's End Harem: Protagonist Reito Mizuhara, aghast at the prospect of being reduced to a de facto Breeding Slave, asks whether the Lady Land tried using artificial insemination to produce male children after 99% of Earth's males were killed in a pandemic. Mira Suou replies that in the five years since the world went to hell, they did try that, but all resulting male newborns died within days because the MK Virus is still endemic in the environment. The point of using him and the other four surviving males as sperm donors is to produce male children who inherit their Disability Immunity.note  Though this still avoids the question of why it has to be natural insemination and not IVF. Straw Feminists are wholly to blame for that part.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • Asterix and the Big Fight: Having failed to conquer the Gaul village, the Romans hatch the plan of having Cassius Ceramix (a Gaul chief who has accepted Roman rule and adapted to be more Roman), challenge their chief Vitalstatistix through the Gaul tradition of the Big Fight for rulership so he can have them surrender to Roman rule once he takes over. This creates problems for the Gauls as Vitalstistix must fight without using the magic potion (which they don't have anyway since Getafix is temporarily insane) and Ceramix is much stronger than he is. At one point in training, Vitalstatistix notes he could just temporarily abdicate in favour of Obelix who would easily win, only for Asterix to explain the rules of the Big Fight specifically forbid that trick. Vitalstatistix ends up running in circles around the ring to tire out Ceramix, then hits him with a Megaton Punch (without potion even) once he hears Getafix is back.
    • Asterix and the Laurel Wreath: While in Rome to look for Caesar's laurel wreath, Asterix has to hold Obelix back when he wants to just go into the palace and beat up the guards until they find the wreath: as Asterix repeatedly points out, Caesar's palace guards are far better trained and equipped than the rank and file legionaries they fight back home and thus could actually pose a threat to them even with the magic potion. What follows is a series of zany plots to get into the palace, none of which work.
    • Asterix and the Roman Agent: During a brainstorming session on how to deal with the Gaul village, Caesar notes that although the Gauls are famous for their internal squabbles, the village always sticks together. Thus they send a Roman specializing in causing strife and discord (he was sentenced to death, but just being around him made the lions eat each other) who almost succeeds in destroying the village until Asterix turns the tables on him.
  • DC Comics:
    • Batman:
      • One explanation given for why Batman doesn't kill supervillains who keep breaking out of prison/containment (especially mass-murdering monsters like The Joker) is that he's afraid of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and end up killing not just supervillains but anyone he sees as breaking the law.
      • In various comic book arcs (including "Hush"), it's explained that one reason he doesn't kill criminals (not even the Joker) is that the Gotham Police is willing to tolerate him as long as he doesn't (only the law is allowed to terminate the Joker, Joker Immunity through Insanity Defense notwithstanding), and if he ever does truly become a Judge, Jury, and Executioner they will label him as another mad-dog costumed psycho and do their damnedest to get him. Batman, who treasures his friendship with James Gordon and prefers not to have to deal with yet another hassle in his war on crime, accepts this.
      • New 52: The Red Hood asks Batman, quite bluntly, why he hasn't killed the Joker yet and ended the countless amounts of misery that he brings to Gotham every time he goes on a rampage. Batman points out that Gotham is such a Crapsack World that 1) killing the Joker wouldn't really reduce the number of threats that are plotting from the shadows to hurt the citizens (a fact that he has evidence of with the Court of Owls, which made itself known to Batman by cutting the Joker's face off) and 2) the possibility exists that if the Joker died he would resurrect anyway, or something even worse would appear to replace him (a fact that would manifest much later with the Batman Who Laughs). So for the DC Universe, it's damned if they do, damned if they don't.
    • Superman: This is a reason why Superman doesn't use his vast power to effect change on a global scale: it's a dangerous slippery slope from well-intentioned enforced peace (i.e. "Stop those border skirmishes or I'll fly over and smash up both your armies") to When All You Have Is a Hammer… (e.g. "These racist skinheads are harassing this black family. I'll fly them into the sun.") As various stories where Superman goes bad have shown, he's right to be terrified.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Magica DeSpell goes to some truly outrageous ends to try to steal Scrooge McDuck's #1 Dime, including going back in time to steal it from him as a kid. Why the heck she doesn't goes for any other rich duck to steal his possessions and fuel the money spell she wants to do with the Dime (or any other of Scrooge's things) is explained as Scrooge's dime having incredible totemic power that she won't get with anybody/thing else (and Scrooge, with his attachment to the coin, is the only rich guy with a possession that she could use in such a fashion anyway). The time-travel heist also ends up not working because she stole the Dime before Scrooge became the richest duck in the world, so it becomes a regular dime when she returns to the present.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • All New Hawkeye: The arc The Tape revolves around Hawkeye's mission to retrieve a VHS tape owned by a criminal organization that has several SHIELD secrets. Why the heck does a videotape even exist, you wonder (and Hawkeye asks Captain America) when everybody and their dog would just upload it to a computer? Because in the post-Civil War world, with Tony Stark's Extremis-given super-Hollywood Hacking capabilities being well known, criminals have had to go extremely low-tech to maintain their secrets (with some success, to boot).
    • The Punisher:
      • The usual result of Frank's method of fighting crime clashes hard with Status Quo Is God, so the usual stated reason he doesn't go after The Kingpin is that doing so would cause an Evil Power Vacuum with civilians caught in a mob war. Towards the end of The Punisher MAX's run, he does go to kill Fisk and succeeds at the cost of his life, leading to civilians violently fighting back against organized crime once his death is announced.
      • Frank's M.O. is repeatedly questioned by both criminals and heroes pointing out that he can't hope to keep crime down by killing criminals, and in fact has never done so. The truth is that Frank is perfectly aware of it: he's a Death Seeker whose only goal is to take out as many mobsters as he can before he's finally killed and reunited with his family.
      • Similarly, several encounters with superheroes have Frank bluntly stating that until they decide enough is enough and kill him themselves, he's going to keep killing criminals even when sent to prison (in fact, he often gets himself arrested so he can get to a convicted criminal).
        (to Daredevil) You want to stop me murdering criminals by taking me off the streets. That's stupid. Send me to prison and I'll just kill every criminal I meet.
        There's only one way to stop me. You know that. If you haven't got it in you to do it, stop wasting my time.
  • The Simpsons: In one Treehouse of Horror issue, the Simpsons get transported to Middle-earth. Bart spends all his time bugging Gandalf listing hypothetical ways of destroying the One Ring, like using a vice. An increasingly irate Gandalf says "no" every time.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: After his Snow Goon comes to life and starts threatening Calvin, Hobbes suggest that they try to melt it by luring it into the house. Calvin points out that the house isn't warm enough to melt it any faster than hours, and his mother would either get attacked by the creature or have a fit at the inevitable mess.
  • Foxtrot: In one strip, Jason says there's an easy way to get him to stop tricking his parents into buying video game consoles (i.e. give in and buy them when he asks). While to him it is the simplest solution, it ignores that they're expensive and his parents don't like him playing video games in the first place.

    Fan Works 
  • The main plot point of A.S.U.L is that, after the destruction of Elegia in the backstory of One Piece Film: Red, Garp found Uta and Gordon on Elegia, and learned how the island was destroyed - and found the music sheets that summon Tot Musica. When Sengoku, after learning this, orders him to destroy them, Garp demonstrates that the pages regenerated from any attempt he made to do that. After Tsuru and Akainu also tried and failed to destroy them, Sengoku settles for making them a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Avengers of the Multi-verse: When the heroes retreat after their loss against Goliath, Rex suggests that for the rematch, Ben turns into Upgrade and upgrades Titan. Lance, Ilana, and Octus are uncomfortable with the idea, as Titan requires the three of them to be in perfect harmony, and throwing Ben into the mix could cause them to fall apart at an inopportune moment. On top of that, Ben adds that their enemies have Albedo in their ranks, which means he could use Negative Upgrade to upgrade Goliath, sending the heroes right back to square one.
  • Code Prime: When Lelouch tells the Autobots his backstory about how his mother was killed, how his father refused his request for justice, and banished him and his sister to Japan, only to invade it a year later, some of them offer to groundbridge to Pendragon, and bring down the Emperor of Britannia. Lelouch immediately shoots it down, pointing out that due to how unpopular Britannia is, the power vacuum would cause the other nations of Earth to attack the weakened Britannia, which would lead to many innocent people getting killed.
  • The End of the World (FernWithy): When Haymitch wonders if he can pull off a Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing victory and hide until everyone else is dead, Drake tells him that a few tributes try that every year. It never works because the violence-craving Gamemakers use the arena technology to either kill those tributes or herd them toward people who will attack them on sight. While it's possible for tributes to survive a long time without pursuing aggressive strategies, they have to do something interesting that will make the Gamemakers lay off them (stealing food in Foxface's case, bonding with alliance members, etc.).
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia: One of Rin Tohsaka's Servants is Homura Akemi. When Rin learns Homura can stop time, she suggests they could win the Holy Grail War right now if she stops time and then seeks out and kills all the other Masters and Servants. Homura says that won't work because her time stop ability uses up so much mana that she cannot maintain it for long.
  • The Heart Trilogy: When the Council of Elrond takes place in Heart of the Inferno, Gimli tries and fails to smash the One Ring as per canon. Another attendee then suggests having Smaug melt it, only for Gandalf and Elrond to reply that not even Ancalagon the Black could have produced a flame hot enough for such a feat. Smaug is forced to concede this even though several dwarven Rings of Power have been destroyed by dragons less powerful than him.
  • Hero Chat: Very early on in the fanfic, Team Miraculous propose trying to get rid of Lila Rossi by simply informing Lila's mother of her daughter's manipulations. They then shoot the idea down because, if Lila could get away with such things as pretending the school was closed for a whole month by an Akuma attack to play hooky, it means Mrs. Rossi is either utterly oblivious or, worse yet, on Lila's side.
  • J-WITCH Series: When the heroes learn about how the Council made the Veil around Meridian to keep Phobos' evil from spreading, the former ask the latter why they never expanded the Veil to cover the Shadow Realm after Tarakudo joined the fray. The Council explain that a) it takes all their power just to put a Veil around one world, so two would be impossible, and b) the Shadow Realm is able to be accessed by shadows across infinite dimensions, which makes sealing it impossible.
  • Mike's New Ghostly Family: After several years of being closed down, Fazbear Entertainment managed to bring itself back to prominence, its management as corrupt as ever and still willing to endanger innocents, with Mike Schmidt and his ghost children determined to prevent them from causing any major damage. As the Schmidt family eventually learns, by creating their VR game they managed to bring William Afton back (kinda) in new form, as a Digital Abomination called Glitchtrap, and one person already got possessed by him. Because of that, a simple solution of "put Fazbear Entertainment out of business" (which is pretty easy to do, given the company's infamy) is out of the question, because with it around, the Schmidts can at the very least predict the pattern of Glitchtrap and his victim, given Afton's strong affinity for Fazbear's franchise, and by putting Fazbear Entertainment out of business, Glitchtrap and his victim would slip away into any other heavily populated place, with no way to track them down, which would allow them to easily kill more innocents unnoticed.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • When the Iron Fleet threatens King's Landing in Daenerys' absence, several people think to reuse Tyrion's trick and set Blackwater Bay on fire to destroy the fleet in one go. It won't work, as Cersei used up most of it to destroy the High Sparrow. It isn't even needed in the end, the Wolf having ordered the fleet to head north without attacking.
    • After the Red Priests arrive to deal with the imminent Chaos invasion, Tyrion Lannister expects that they can just use their magic to kill the Wolf. A Red Priest tells him that it won't be possible: using magic to kill him means that the Wolf's curse (to seek out and kill giant monsters and great warriors or be tortured for eternity) will transfer to the killer, putting them in thrall to the Ruinous Powers. So while the Wolf is a terrifying Hero Killer, at least he's not a Reality Warper, so they'll have to fight him through mundane means... which is exactly what the Wolf asked of them.
  • Not the intended use (Zantetsuken Reverse): In A Game of Cat and Cat, once Naoki realizes that Daisuke is missing, he goes out seeking delinquents in the city who may have recently seen him, as Daisuke is known to get into fights. That is, until a gang leader points out to him that the city is too big for that to work because even though they're all delinquents, that doesn't mean they all know each other.
    • A Game of Cat and Cat is about the cast investigating a serial killer. In an extra for the chapter where Soma Cruz discovers that he can see ghosts, Kazuya suggests looking for the ghosts of the victims. Alas, the accomplice hired an exorcist.
  • The Joker's titular Joker Immunity is a subject of much frustration, in and out of universe, which led to Jason, in the backstory of one day at a time eventually deciding to just do a Boom, Headshot!. And then, as it turns out, the Joker is a Legacy Character - a new Joker is created every time the previous Joker dies, and each new Joker is infallibly worse than the previous Joker. And the new Joker that was created by Jason murdering the third Joker was directly responsible for killing Bruce. Jason sees putting a bullet in his skull, in the present/past, as the one kill he regrets more than any other.
  • Professor Arc gives us an example of the "only works for the person proposing the simple solution" type: when the rumors of Jaune Arc's very alleged prowess as a Hunter reach Salem, she decides that she's okay with putting her plans on pause for a few decades and wait for Jaune to grow old and die. This plan is perfectly okay for her, who is immortal, but all of her followers lack the same advantage and thus they decide they need to do something about Jaune ASAP.
  • Recklessness (Miraculous Ladybug): Played for drama and horror. The whole plot happens because Ayla Cesaire decides, out of the blue, that the best way to finally discover who Hawk Moth is once and for all is to utilize the Wish that is granted to those who have both the Cat and Ladybug Miraculouses to obtain the information. She was told that Reality Warping Is Not a Toy, but insists in her mind that such a simple wish should make for a low chance of backlash, and goes for it anyway. What makes this a horrific example is that in her impulsive desire to apply said "simple solution" she casually dismisses betraying her best friends to steal the Miraculouses, which leads to Adrien getting Akumatized and to him murdering Marinette, which will lead to the Kwami making sure Ayla gets a huge karmic backfire as revenge.
  • The premise of Retrospective is that the Romanian government uncovered Richter Belmont's diaries and want to display them in a museum, but they contain sensitive information note . To stop them from going public, Richter's descendant Julius tried to claim the journals, but his thirty-six year long disappearance left him Legally Dead. Julius later suggests stealing the journals, but Arikado points out that the Agency already has digital copies.
  • Shortest War Ever: The USS Bajor observes a nuclear standoff on an alien planet, and Eleya asks for suggestions of possible ways they could prevent or stop a war, Prime Directive notwithstanding. Gaarra suggests trying to defuse it by introducing antiwar propaganda into the native Sabeks' communications networks. Chief of the Boat Kinlo immediately shoots that down because the Sabeks are a pre-Information Age species and barely even have personal computers in major cities.
    Kinlo: They're dependent on corporate and state media to get any information out; they'd notice the intrusion.
  • This Bites!:
    • Commander Drake asks his superior Vice-Admiral Jonathan why the Marines haven't dispatched an Admiral to take out the Straw Hat Pirates, whose actions are dismantling the control of the World Government and would reasonably lead to such a decision. Jonathan replies that aside from one of them being a Blood Knight on the other side of the Red Line while the other two are Brilliant, but Lazy, there's also the Morton's Fork outcome: either the Admiral is successful but it will be seen as overkill for a crew of rookies and make the Marines as a whole look weak, or the Straw Hats are able to defeat one of the World Government's powerhouses and throw off the balance of the Three Powers.
    • In Chapter 65, Luffy asks Cross why none of the Four Emperors, least of all Whitebeard and Shanks, have declared the Sabaody Archipelago as their territory to stop the slave trade. Cross speculates it might be because since they're on the other side of the Red Line, any crew members they sent to protect the Archipelago would be an easy target for the Marines, regardless of how powerful they are (especially considering Marine Headquarters and Mariejois, capital of the World Government, are effectively "next door" as far as island locations go).
  • The premise of wasting beats of this heart of mine is that Zagreus reincarnates as a mortal to find Persephone, a mission that would be much easier if reincarnation didn't wipe his memories (and battle experience). According to Hypnos, remembering is simple: drink from the spring of Mnemosyne. However, Zagreus might not walk away untraumatized, especially since he died over and over as a god.
  • We Must Be Killers: During the last minute negotiations between Snow and the Quell mentors, after President Snow rejects the suggestions of Diana from District 8 and Angus from District 10 to either cancel the 3rd Quarter Quell or do a regular reaping for kids to replace the Victor-tributes, Cora from District 9 bluntly suggests that he just kill Katniss rather than go through the charade of making everyone else collateral damage to take her with them. However, as Haymitch (who suggests that Snow just put her under de facto house arrest, which again is too lenient for Snow's ego) points out, this will just make her a martyr and give people even less reason to hold back from rebelling.
  • Why they don't do this is a Miraculous Ladybug drabble series that shows what might be an efficient and straightforward solution isn't always the best choice.
    • The first entry, Using Scarlet Moth all the time, shows that while Scarlet Moth's ability to make an army of akumas nearly let him beat the heroes in "Heroe's Day", it takes weeks of preparation to set up a situation for a mass akumatization, which not only gives Ladybug and Chat Noir time to prepare, but also recruit more heroes, create charms to prevent people from becoming akumas, and ultimately find and locate Hawkmoth.
    • On the heroes' side, they are a few examples such as Using the Pig Miraculous to discover Shadow Moth's identity. While using the Pig Miraculous's Gift to show Shadow Moth's deepest desires is a good idea on paper, in practice, it requires Shadow Moth to be present in an akuma fight and be still long enough for either Ladybug or Pigella to gift him. And at the end when Pigella does successfully corner and hit Shadow Moth, she sees that his desire is Emilie... who she doesn't recognize and isn't around anyone that could.

    Films — Animation 
  • Justice League: Doom: Vandal Savage initiates a Solar Flare Disaster that will roast the sunward side of the Earth. Superman suggests he push the planet out of the way. Batman counters that if he had a week, he still couldn't list all the reasons that wouldn't work.
  • The LEGO Movie: When Emmet, Wyldstyle, Vitruvius, Batman, and Unikitty try to escape Bad Cop's assault on Cloud Cuckoo Land, Benny arrives to build a spaceship for them to escape in. However, Wyldstyle stops him by saying that the skies are filled with dropships, meaning it'll probably get shot down quickly.
  • The Princess and the Frog: When Lawrence wonders why he has to wear the amulet that disguises himself as Prince Naveen, and not Dr. Facilier, the good doctor explains that his magic has a No Self-Buffs rule.
    Doctor Facilier: Fun fact about voodoo, Larry... [puts on the amulet; nothing happens, he shrugs] Can't conjure a thing for myself.
  • The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie:
    • After being carjacked by a thug, forcing them to walk for miles on foot, SpongeBob and Patrick discover their car outside a Bad-Guy Bar, with the hijacker in possession of the key. While contemplating how to get it back, Patrick suggests merely walking into the bar and asking him for it. Considering that the patrons get into Bar Brawls over trivial things like being looked at funny, SpongeBob is quick to say what a bad idea that is.
    • After learning that Plankton had turned everyone in Bikini Bottom into slaves, SpongeBob asks Princess Mindy if King Neptune could do anything to stop him. Mindy explains that her father is too distracted with hiding his bald spot to help.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: Happens twice, with both times involving the Big Bad Sohkura's efforts at slaying a cyclops that's been causing trouble for him on his home island.
    • First, after becoming aware of how Sohkura possesses a lamp containing a genie, Sinbad asks him why he can't just wish for the genie to get rid of the cyclops. Sohkura responds by explaining how the genie is explicitly forbidden from causing harm to other living beings.
    • Later, Sinbad's love interest Princess Parisa asks Sohkura, who just so happens to be a reasonably powerful mage, why he can't just kill the cyclops himself with his magic. As Sohkura subsequently explains, he did try exactly that by brewing a potion designed to kill the cyclops, only for this plan to hit a snag when he proved unable to get the monster to actually drink the potion.
  • As Time Goes By 1988: When Ryder (The Hero, who has arrived in a small town following the instructions of a letter his mother left him after her death... which are to meet her there) hears that Joe Bogart (a man he meets in said town) has a time machine, he does the inevitable question of going back in time to kill Hitler and we get an extremely blunt answer to why having a Time Machine won't stop history from having things like the Holocaust happening anyway as a prelude to other events in the plot — Bogart ruefully mentions that he already killed the leader of the Nazi Party during the Forties only for history to put Adolf Hitler in his place.
    Joe Bogart: Couldn't stop the Holocaust — got rid of Strasser, and this dumb painter named Adolf showed up and did it all exactly the same way. Who'd'a read about it?
  • Avengers: Endgame:
    • At the start of the film, the Avengers plan to steal the Infinity Stones and Gauntlet from Thanos in order to undo the Snap. Unfortunately, the energy signature that led them to his location turns out to have been from him destroying the Stones, both to prevent anyone from undoing the Snap and to keep himself from being tempted to use them for other purposes.
    • When the time machine is first built, Scott Lang suggests just using it to go back to before Thanos had the Stones and get them before he does, thereby preventing the Snap in the first place. Hulk tells him this wouldn't work, since this would just create an alternate timeline, rather than change their past.
    • Jim "War Machine" Rhodes then suggests that, if the grand plan of the Avengers to revive the people killed by Thanos' Snap involves time travel, why not just go back all the way to when Thanos was a baby and kill him? The Hulk tells him that it won't not work as he thinks it would, because their method of time travel involves going to alternate universes (which means that they would just kill an Alternate Self of Thanos)... after a couple of seconds of being grossed out at the idea of assassinating a baby.
  • Back to the Future Part II: After Doc Brown explains how 2015 Biff went back in time to give the "Gray's Sports Almanac" to himself in the past in order to become rich by betting on all the winners in any sport he chose, thus creating an alternate version of 1985, Marty suggests they go back to 2015 to stop Biff from using the DeLorean, but Doc tells him that it would be a future of the altered 1985, meaning that the only way to undo the damage was to go back to whatever time Old Biff went to and retrieve the book.
  • The Book of Henry: When the Carpenter family notice that the little girl who lives next door is abused by her stepfather, they do try to contact Child Services first, but their complaints fall on deaf ears (the head of the local office is the brother of the stepfather and buys the man's excuses, contacting the Child Services office of another town only leads to the Carpenters being told that they are in a different jurisdiction, the stepfather is the chief of police so calling the cops is out, and Henry telling the principal of his school to file the complaint is only met with extreme reluctance by the principal). This leads to Henry deciding that Murder Is the Best Solution and making his plan in a notebook (the titular book), which has extensive notes explaining to his mother why it's the only option that will work, when she questions it as she's reading the book. Notably, the "simple solution" technically does work, but only when the principal finally gets over her reluctance and contacts Child Services completely independently of the Carpenters' actions at the climax.
  • The Conjuring Universe: Very early in The Conjuring, the Warrens are asked about why they don't just destroy their collection of haunted artifacts instead of keeping them around where someone could accidentally release the evil spirits. The answer the Warrens give is that with the artifacts still around, there is still a place to shove the evil spirits in if they escape — if the artifacts are destroyed, chances are they are just going to break free and rampage with nothing to stop them.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The main characters bring Carver (a Jerkass who hates the apes) along to a diplomatic meeting to restore power to a hydroelectric dam, which naturally screws things up for everyone. Leaving him behind isn't an option because he's the only one who knows his way inside the dam.
  • In Disaster on the Coastliner, after it's discovered that the Big Bad hacked the computer that manages the trainway routes so two trains (one of which has the Vice President's wife) will collide (and furthermore he has hijacked one of them to make sure), Secret Service agent Al Mitchell (The Hero) immediately tells the computer's programmer that they should just shoot the computer, but the programmer tells Mitchell that destroying the computer would just make all of the train tracks in the line go haywire and cause hundreds of train crashes.
  • End of Days provides us with an example of the "only works for the character suggesting it" variation in one of the film's sub-plots: as Jericho Cane tries to protect Christine York (the woman prophesized to help Satan create The Antichrist, a thing she definitely does not wish to do), he discovers that there is a rogue group of Vatican priests who have decided to kill York and prevent the event from happening. It's noted that it's sinful and only will prevent Satan from doing this for another millennia, but they don't care. They are notably massacred by Satan when he comes calling while Father Novak, who was protesting this, is just knocked out.
    Father Kovak: You can't prevent evil by doing evil!
  • Enter the Dragon: During the Mission Briefing concerning Han, his secret island lair and the possibility he's using it as a drug lab, and the martial arts tournament Han has organized which he's being asked to use to infiltrate the island and find evidence, Lee asks Braithwaite why he cannot bring along a gun and maybe shoot Han when he's offered any equipment he wishes. Braithwaite immediately shoots it down by mentioning that Han's island is located right in the China/Hong Kong border which would make any gunfire that is not performed by the police a legal nightmare, plus Han is paranoid of people bringing guns to said island because of a Noodle Incident. So fists it is.note 
  • Freejack: As Alex Furlong is being told by his former representative what a "freejack" means (that Furlong was kidnapped from the past by a rich person in order to upload their mind into his brain and continue living), Alex asks why the heck the rich people don't just take people off the street for that purpose, and Alex's friend shows him the slum they are now in and explains that the future world has been such a polluted mess and people have been using drugs for so long that it's virtually impossible to find someone healthy enough for the upload, so stealing people from the past is the only real option for this scheme.
  • The Gauntlet: Wanting to remove the witness who could bring them down, Commissioner Blakelock asks Assistant District Attorney Feyderspiel why not just use their Mob connections to have the prison bus the witness is being transported on blown to kingdom come whilst its on route to Phoenix. Feyderspeil bluntly points out the Mob would never agree to do so, as blowing up a bus whilst on a major public highway would attract far to much attention.
  • Hocus Pocus: After hearing how the Sanderson Sisters' book of spells is the source of their power, Max's first instinct is to pull a lighter on it, only for the flame to be repelled, with Binx explaining that the book is protected by magic, so destroying it is a non-option.
  • Home Sweet Home Alone: Max thinks aloud for a moment about why he doesn't just call the police to come deal with the thieves who are trying to break in: if the cops find out that he was abandoned by his parents (even if it was an accident), the cops will surely arrest them for apparent child endangerment alongside the thieves (this is a pretty notable case because in the other films in the series, the cops finding out the kid is all alone is only met with angry stares to the parents at worst).
  • Insidious: Once the Lambert family catches on that they are living in a haunted house and that the spirit in question is malevolent, they immediately move the hell away. Unfortunately, the spirit just follows them to their new home and escalates, leading to them trying the more risky solution of exorcising it.
  • John Wick: Chapter 4: More like "simple solution is not working". After three films of becoming an increasingly annoying pest to the High Table because he is a One-Man Army that just refuses to die and is killing members by the truckload, the High Table finally escalates so high in their retaliation (and show themselves to be so mind-boggling in their width) that Wick accepts that there is no way he will be able to get out of this mess no matter how many he kills, so he accepts the more complicated solution of challenging the Marquis to a Duel to the Death with his freedom as a prize, a duel that the Marquis does absolutely everything in his power to increase the odds on his side.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Possibly the best-known Fandom-Enraging Misconception in any discussion of the trilogy is "Why didn't the Fellowship ride the Great Eagles of Manwe into Mordor instead of walking?", because the films don't state that this was never an option: the Eagles would have been spotted too easily and been intercepted, handing the Ring right over to Sauron.
    • The Fellowship of the Ring:
      • When Elrond and Frodo reveal the One Ring to the attendees of the Council of Rivendell, Boromir suggests using the Ring against Sauron. Aragorn immediately shoots that down: "The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master."
      • Elrond subsequently says that the Ring must be destroyed. Gimli promptly takes a swing at it with his battleaxe —and is Blown Across the Room and his axe's blade shattered.
        Elrond: (bemused) The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Glóin, by any craft that we here possess.
    • The Return of the King: Following the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Gandalf states that Sauron will be regrouping in Mordor after his defeat. Gimli (again) suggests just letting him rot there, and Gandalf replies that his remaining armies of orcs are now standing between Frodo and Mount Doom. This leads to the plan to march on the Black Gate to draw Sauron's attention away—a plan that means certain defeat for the armies of Men if Frodo fails to get through.
  • Matilda: After Matilda has endured half of her first day in school seeing the outrageous tortures that Agatha Trunchbull (the school's Dean Bitterman and extreme Sadist Teacher) unleashes on the children, she asks the other students in her classroom why the heck has nobody told their parents about Trunchbull's brutality and gotten them to call the police, and she's told back that none of their parents have believed them because of how outrageous said tortures are (admittedly, probably telling someone about the school having an iron maiden (which Trunchbull affectionately calls "the Chokey") and how Trunchbull showed her rage at a girl having pigtails by grabbing her by said pigtails and using her as a Human Hammer-Throw would be a tall tale in other circumstances). The book also makes mention that Trunchbull has managed to intimidate the parents who have believed their children into looking the other way. The result is that Matilda needs to fix things herself using her Psychic Powers.
  • Major Payne: After a while of the titular Major terrorizing the JROTC team of Madison Academy, they discuss how to get rid of him and one of the cadets says that they should just denounce Payne to the Academy's principal. This is shot down by Cadet Stone, who mentions that the principal is a complete idiot (a thing the audience was shown — said principal cannot even recall the term for the ROTC, labeling it "the thing of the little green men") and probably won't care to do anything about Payne's harshness, so the cadets decide to perform a lot of wacky antics to try to force Payne to leave, including slipping him an industrial-strength laxative and even trying to frame him as a pedophile (neither of which work).
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, when the crew is explaining to Benedict the problems they're having getting to Bank's diamonds, Benedict suggest they just cut the power like they did in the first film. Basher explains that the alarms for the case containing the diamonds are on a separate power source.
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again: After former Chief Inspector Dreyfus makes a threat to the governments of the world that he will destroy the world with a disintegration beam unless they kill Inspector Jacques Clouseau for him, Dreyfus' assistant points out that in order to steal the beam he assembled a band composed of the most dangerous criminals in the world, so why not use them to kill Clouseau instead? Dreyfus answers, with surprising bluntness, "Because you wouldn't stand a chance." Sure enough, the governments of the world assemble a Carnival of Killers composed of the best assassins under their employ, and the ones that don't murder each other following their governments' orders all end up being annihilated by Clouseau's incredible luck and well-timed bumbling — and Dreyfus' assistant also ends up accidentally buying it when he decides to disobey his boss and try to take out Clouseau himself.
  • The Rise of Skywalker: A character asks, "Why not use the Holdo Maneuver?" in reference to the scene in The Last Jedi when Admiral Holdo used the Raddus to ram the First Order flagship Supremacy while jumping to hyperspace, wrecking it and the accompanying fleet. The suggestion is brushed off as "a million-to-one chance". This was likely inserted in response to backlash that said maneuver broke Willing Suspension of Disbelief, as in prior works in the franchise, weaponised hyperspace just wasn't a thing for various reasons and the scene therefore led to people asking, "Why didn't the Rebels hyperspace-ram the Death Star?" Though in spite of this line, the montage of the First Order's defeat at the end includes a shot of a Star Destroyer broken in nearly the same way as the Supremacy, implying that some crazy Resistance pilot did recreate the Holdo maneuver successfully.
  • Road House (1989): When the local business owners discuss going to the cops to deal with Wesley's extortion, this idea is immediately thrown out the window since they're apparently ALL in Wesley's pocket. One owner decides to just go directly to the FBI, but his decision is a Hope Spot - right after he says this, the film cuts to several hours later in which Wesley discovered this somehow, killed the guy to keep him silent, and destroys his business with a monster truck to deliver the message that he is not bluffing when he says they better bend the knee and pay him or else.
  • In The Sandlot, Scott inadvertently knocks his stepfather's prized Babe Ruth-autographed baseball over the fence that surrounds the titular lot—which makes it the property of the Beast, an Angry Guard Dog that jealously protects anything that ends up in his territory. When the kids gather to think of a solution, Scott suggests that they simply ask Mr. Mertle, the Beast's owner, to get the ball for them, but Squints tells him it won't work, because "Mr. Mertle's the meanest old man who ever lived." It becomes a Brick Joke when, after countless Zany Schemes, the kids finally retrieve the ball and befriend the Beast (who turns out to be a Big Friendly Dog); when they go to return the pooch to Mr. Mertle and explain the situation, he gruffly says "Why didn't you just knock on the door, I'd have gotten it for you." Cue the kids pulverizing Squints for his stupidity.
  • In Sharktopus, the initial plan to capture the titular beast is to hit it with tranq darts so it'll be forced to the surface where it can be hit with a special dart that'll allow them to take control. When it's asked why they can't just skip a step and shoot the darts underwater, it's explained that they can only be shot with a grenade launcher. Also, there's only two, so they have make those shots count.
  • Played for Laughs in Six String Samurai: Buddy encounters a group of remnant Soviet soldiers in one scene, and all of the Soviet soldiers get ready to fight Buddy with blades and using their rifles as bludgeons. One of the soldiers asks another that if they have rifles, why not just shoot Buddy? The other soldier calls the first an idiot and reminds him that they've been out of bullets for ten years.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Spock deduces that the alien probe that is devastating Earth's atmosphere is actually seeking humpback whales to communicate with. Unfortunately, humpbacks were driven to extinction centuries ago. Kirk suggests answering the probe with simulations of humpback songs, but Spock points out that since they don't know the actual language of the whales or the probe, they'd be broadasting gibberish; they need actual whales to be able to answer, leading to the movie's central time travel plot.
  • Star Trek: Generations: When Picard pieces together that Soran destroyed the Armagosa star and is planning to destroy the Veridian star in order to get into the Nexus, he wonders why Soran doesn't simply fly into it. Data explains that it's probably impossible.
    Picard: He's changing the course of the ribbon. But why? Why would he try to change its path? Why doesn't he just fly into it with a ship?
    Data: Our records show that every ship which has approached the ribbon has either been destroyed or severely damaged.
    Picard: He can't get to the ribbon, so he's trying to make the ribbon come to him.
  • S.W.A.T. (2003): Faced with an unmedicated schizophrenic firing shotgun blasts out his door and making demands or else he shoots himself, Hondo's first suggestion is to just go in the front with riot shields. Lieutenant Velasquez vetoes that because the so-called "Polish hostage" claims to have wired all the doors and windows with high explosives.
    Hondo: Hah! Come on, Greg.
    Velasquez: Look, Hondo, you wrote the book, I just read it.
  • Tremors:
  • WarGames: In the climactic scene, as the WOPR supercomputer is seeking the codes to launch all of America's nuclear arsenal at the Soviet Union, General Beringer says "Just unplug the goddamned thing!". He's then told by McKittrick that it wouldn't work since it would interpret a shutdown as the destruction of NORAD, and thus would activate a "fail-deadly" override and instantly launch all the missiles.
  • Where Eagles Dare: Played with. When the team is being assigned to rescue General Carnaby from the heavily fortified Schloss Adler to stop the Nazis being able to prize the key details of the upcoming D-Day landings out of him, Christiansen asks why go through such a risky mission when they could instead have a squadron of Lancaster bombers reduce the entire fortress to rubble thus ensuring the information stays secret. Admiral Rollo bluntly tells him that deliberately killing the American general would lead to severe repercussions from the outraged American military. However, the whole event is in fact a staged front to root out the double agents that have infiltrated British intelligence.

  • The Accursed Kings: Phillipe IV is holding a council to decide what to do with The Knights Templar (he had them arrested and tortured so as to break their power and avoid paying back the colossal debt he owed them, and several of them publicly recanted their false confessions) and asks his son Louis for his opinion. Louis (who is completely incompetent as a statesman) suggests sending them to the Pope, which gets an exasperated look from his father and his usual "Louis, be quiet". Sending the Templars back to the Pope would mean starting the entire trial back from the beginning (which took seven years).
  • The Adventures of Wishbone #18: Gullifur's Travels (adapting Gulliver's Travels): In a scene original to this version, Lemuel Gulliver suggests a simple solution that could end the war between Big-Endians and Little-Endians (those who prefer to break the big end of an egg and those who prefer to break the small end): Take a Third Option and crack the egg in the middle instead. Reldresal, principal secretary of Lilliput and friend of Gulliver, nervously tells him not to voice that idea where anyone else can hear him because it would be considered a compromise — and in Lilliput, compromisers are seen as disloyal and are put to death if caught.
  • Animorphs:
    • A lot of dramatic tension comes from the fact that while the Animorphs could alert the world to the Yeerk invasion, removing the need for secrecy and combat that takes a toll on their psyche, doing so would cause an open war with the Yeerks that they cannot win: as Ax once explained, the Yeerks have the capacity to incinerate the atmosphere from orbit, not to mention alien shock troops and space-capable fighters that vastly outperform modern jets, while the team can... turn into animals. The Yeerk themselve also keep to the shadow for various reason, both pragmatic (several billion potential hosts with decent environment-manipulation capabilities is nothing to be sneezed at) and entimental (Visser One, who's in charge of the invasion, had human children via a previous host and wants to keep them safe). Towards the end of the series, the Yeerks do launch open war, and suddenly the casualties are higher in a single book than all the previous ones combined.
    • An early story has the team morph a wolf pack to travel through a forest. When they run into a real wolf pack guarding a dead rabbit, Tobias urges them to run because the Yeerks are coming, but Jake tells him they can't, as this might cause the other wolves to attack. Tobias resolves the situation by snatching the dead rabbit away, focusing the wolves' attention on him and allowing the team to flee.
  • Discussed in The Bands of Mourning. Centuries ago, The Sovereign built a Temple of Doom to keep the titular artifact safe for when he returns. Wax thinks this is a terrible idea, pointing out how a gigantic temple just attracts treasure hunters, and that the Sovereign is liable to be killed by his own traps. Burying it in a cave would be both safer and more secure. Later, Wax realizes that a cave wouldn't work; what if the Sovereign forgot which cave, or the landscape changed while he was gone? The gigantic temple ensures that the Sovereign never loses track of it, and the traps aren't a problem for him because the Bands aren't inside the temple at all.
  • Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau contains the line (later misattributed to Queen Marie Antoinette), "I remembered the way out suggested by a great princess when told that the peasants had no bread: 'Well, let them eat cake'." The obvious problem in context being that there was no cake or any other food available, either.
  • The Day of the Jackal: At one point a member of the OAS suggests that instead of hiring the titular Jackal to assassinate President de Gaulle (which will cost them a fortune they don't have) why not simply find a crazed fanatic who they can set to kill him in a Suicide Attack. The suggestion is dismissed by the other members on the grounds of it being next to impossible to find anyone who is simultaneously insane enough to agree to do so, and rational enough to follow a coherent complex plan to bypass de Gaulle's defences.
  • Discworld:
    • Going Postal: Long ago, Bloody Stupid Johnson was hired to build a mail sorting machine for the post office. However, he decided to make things easier on himself by having Pi equal three. Somehow, this worked and the machine was completed, but this warped reality so the device began receiving mail that shouldn't exist, and it posed the threat of destroying the entire universe altogether. Ultimately, this lead to the dissolution of the postal service until Vetinari had Moist resurrect it many years later.
    • From the same book, under the management of bankers and businessmen, the Grand Trunk company runs the Clacks towers ragged, cutting costs like maintenance. When the towers start shutting down, one of the investors suggests spending money on maintenance, only for Mr. Pony, the only engineer on the board, to point out that they don't have the manpower. None of the former company engineers would take a job with the company for any money, and training laymen takes time. Fixing the Clacks towers will take hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of shutdown.
      Pony: Do you want it done cheap or fast or good, gentlemen?
    • The Last Hero: When told that Cohen the Barbarian plans to detonate a Fantastic Nuke on top of Cor Celesti, which will result in the death of the gods and the end of magic for two years, several people think it's a small price to pay. Ponder Stibbons has to explain that it means the end of the world.
      Mr. Slant: Well, we can do without magic for a couple of years, can't we?
      Ponder: With respect, we cannot. The seas will run dry. The sun will burn out and crash. The elephants and the turtle may cease to exist altogether.
      Slant: That'll happen in just two years?
      Ponder: Oh, no. That'll happen within a few minutes, sir. You see, magic isn't just coloured lights and balls. Magic holds the world together.
  • Full Metal Panic!: One of the major running gags in the franchise is how much people try to talk down Sousuke Sagara from applying simple solutions to whatever problems he encounters (with varying degrees of success and collateral damage) — mostly because as a spy and former guerrilla who is a frankly bizarre Combat Pragmatist, his "simple solutions" constantly involve trying to shoot/stab/torture/blow up whatever gets in his way. Works mighty fine to protect his charge/girlfriend from assassins, but for dealing with a school bully... yeah.
  • The Faraway Paladin: In volume 3, Will goes on a quest to slay the dragon Valacirca, who has been in a torpor for 200 years but is now rousing. His adoptive grandfather Gus points out that Will has overlooked the possibility of just buying the dragon off, since in the past he fought as a mercenary for doers of both good and evil—but then admits that they probably can't afford him at this point. Even if they could, when Will actually speaks to Valacirca later, it turns out that nowadays the dragon cares more about his reputation as a legendary Hero Killer than about expanding his Dragon Hoard.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The spell Accio (learned by Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) has the very convenient power to summon an object from a great distance, but unfortunately virtually every MacGuffin in the series is protected from its effects.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
      • This book establishes why no one has tried simply tried to kill Voldemort and be done with it: the evil sorcerer has used a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to rip out individual pieces of his soul and lock them in seven special containers called "Horcruxes." As such, any attempt to kill Voldemort without destroying all seven of the Horcruxes won't work—he's immortal so long as a single one remains intact.
      • The United Kingdom gets a new Prime Minister who, as is tradition, is immediately let in on The Masquerade by the current Minister of Magic; when the PM asks why the good guys don't use their powers to stop Voldemort and his followers, his wizarding opposite sighs. "The other side has magic, too."
  • Judge Dee: Rivertown is the town next to the palace that serves as the Third Princess' residence, and as such, is under draconian law: the slightest infraction is punished with the "lingering death" (literal Death of a Thousand Cuts), making it a paradise for the leaders of criminal organizations thanks to the increased security. When the judge asks why such undesirables aren't simply kicked out, the captain of the guard answers that it's impossible to check the antecedents of the hundreds of people coming and going through the town, which makes most of its money from tourism-related traffic.
  • Downplayed in Legends & Lattes. Upon having her new café threatened by the local Protection Racket, ex-adventurer Viv's first instinct is to grab her BFS off the wall and start breaking heads. She is advised by her business partner Tandri that she could do that, but it would likely end either with her dead, or un-retired (the whole point of the café was to get out of the adventuring business). Luckily, it turns out the local mob boss is open to accepting payment in free pastries.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The problem of what to do with the One Ring gives rise to several simplistic solutions, none of which are kept because they're too dangerous or possibly even worse, such as dropping it in the ocean instead of destroying it (who knows what would find it, and Sauron is already powerful enough to Take Over the World with his armies), or giving it to Tom Bombadil or Gandalf to keep (they're powerful enough to hide it from Sauron, but Tom would eventually lose it and Gandalf would become a Knight Templar under its influence), or trying to destroy it with some other source of magical fire (only dragon fire could even theoretically destroy a Great Ring, and dragons are few and rarely cooperative).
  • The Moomins: When The Hobgoblin discovers that Thingumy and Bob have the King's Ruby in their possession, a jewel he has been seeking for at least three centuries, he is very willing to give them whatever they want in exchange for it. However, they refuse to give up the jewel for any price and even when frustrated, the Hobgoblin admits he can't bring himself to take it by force. Since he is at a party granting other people's wishes, he's asked why he can't simply wish for the King's Ruby for himself. As it is, the Hobgoblin is unable to use his magic to grant himself wishes based on his desires. However, this doesn't stop other people from making wishes on his behalf and so Thingumy and Bob wish for a copy of the King's Ruby to be made so they can give it to him freely as a gift.
  • Overlord (2012): When Ainz participates in the Empire's gladiatorial arena, Emperor Jircniv hopes that Ainz (having demonstrated he can casually cast spells not even the best spellcaster in the Empire can hope to match) is a Squishy Wizard. Unfortunately, after Ainz proves he's no less invincible in melee combat by handily winning without the use of magic, Jircniv accepts the inevitable and declares the Empire a vassal state of Nazarick. This turns out to be the best decision he's taken in his life, as Nazarick has no interest in telling him how to run the Empire, demands condemned prisoners instead of crushing tribute, and even bolsters his borders with their undead troops. Best of all, any unpopular decision he makes can now be handled by saying "take it up with Nazarick" instead of surveillance and intrigue to remove dissidents.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Watson's objections of "just arrest him" are often shot down by Holmes, who points out that the evidence they have is too tenuous, or that arresting the leader of a criminal conspiracy immediately would result in the smaller fry getting away.
  • Parodied in Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs. The first solution suggested by Leon's Heroic Comedic Sociopath AI servant Luxion to virtually any problem is invariably "obliterate the entire country of the person or group that caused it", which actually would be relatively simple for his "main body", a Lost Technology space battleship. By about book three Leon et al. have stopped even trying to explain to the human-hating AI why that wouldn't be helpful.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The short story "Rocks Are Not Free!" is a detailed analysis of why the Inquisition does not use giant asteroids instead of giant bombs to Exterminatus planets. In short, getting an asteroid to crash into a given planet takes considerably more fuel, money, labor, and most importantly time than it is to bombard it from a distance.
  • Wulfrik: Despite all the tortures he inflicts on them, Viglundr is unable to get his sorcerers to kill Wulfrik by magic, as his curse would transfer to them instead. This is also the reason Zarnath, aka Ludwig Stossel, keeps manipulating events to send Wulfrik to his death instead of causing it himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • An invoked example. After a little while of trying to deal with Angel through the typical solution of sending assassins and demons to kill him (which did not work), Wolfram & Hart lawyer Gavin Park points out to his coworkers that Angel does not have any legal documentation because he's a vampire and they could just toss the IRS at him to make his life hell. One scene (and several In-Universe hours) later, fellow (and cut-throat rival) WR&H lawyer Lilah Morgan arrives at Angel's office and hands him all necessary papers to prevent this from happening and no strings attached, purely to spite Park.
    • In the third season, it was revealed that Gunn sold his soul for his truck and the demon he sold it to came to collect. Angel attempted to help by cutting the demon's head off. Gunn pointed out that if it was that easy, he could have done it himself, as the demon's head was regrowing.
  • Better Call Saul: In Season 5 "The Guy For This", Lalo wants Jimmy to go to the detention center where Krazy-8 is being held and give him the locations of Gus's dead drops to reveal to the authorities under the protection of the attorney-client privilege. When Jimmy, not wanting to get involved with the Cartel business, points out that they could just sneak a burner phone to Krazy-8 and talk to him directly, Nacho points out it will be more convincing if he's there when Krazy-8 reveals the locations the authorities.
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Snap Happy", Brittas is trying to get a photoshoot of his staff taken at the same time as a children's party, an air raid shelter that needs to be demolished, and an attempt to give the centre heritage status. When Gavin asks why they can't just move it into the next day, Brittas states that doing so would require moving the air conditioning check into the afternoon slot, which would lead to the postponement of the Arbos Whitbury Branch semi-final draw to the following day, which has implications for the local security review and other events. When Tim then points out just moving the shoot into the afternoon slot, Brittas argues that that can't be the case as an afternoon slot needs to be kept open to get everyone's breath back.
  • Burn Notice:
    • The "simple solution" for whatever problems of the week Team Westen has to deal is murder, preferably a bullet to the criminal's face. The villains are vile enough, the stakes are high enough, the clients are desperate enough... and Michael Westen refuses to use this method because 1) it will just draw too much attention from law enforcement, 2) it's only going to lead to an extreme escalation in violence (and as good as Team Westen is, it's still five people vs. the virtual armies most criminal organizations seem to have), 3) the complete destruction of the organization hurting the clients is required, not just shooting the one soldier, and/or 4) he needs information on the people who burned him that he won't get if the leads are dead. This is why villains like the Burned Spies Organization and "Dead" Larry are showcased to be completely wrong, with their eagerness to murder anything that is even theoretically an obstacle, and when Michael finally does start to just shoot the problem, it's a sign that he has fallen into Darker and Edgier territory (and it doesn't help him as much as he wanted).
    • "Wanted Man": Michael offers to trade favors with a Libyan intelligence cell: they rattle the cage of the man who signed off on his burn notice, he tells them which terrorists blew up one of their gas supply depots. The commander suggests he could just torture Michael and then kill him. Michael matter-of-factly replies that they could do that, but "torture is unreliable, as you know, and then you'd have to deal with Fiona, who put me in touch with you. More trouble than it's worth, trust me."
  • Cheers: During one particular round of the Will They or Won't They?, Sam actually fires Diane. It doesn't take, because Diane is too stubborn to admit she's been fired. Many years later, in a discussion with Rebecca when the Diane problem comes up again, Sam tells her if he thought he could've gotten Diane sent to prison, he would have.
  • Cobra Kai: After Daniel LaRusso's wife Amanda gets a grasp of how crazy John Kreese is and how violent he's turning the students of Cobra Kai, she insists that Daniel and the rest of the cast just ditch the whole Rival Dojos situation, call the police and get a restraining order to keep Kreese away. Unfortunately, Kreese is a Manipulative Bastard who has taken steps to prevent this already, including presenting himself (quite falsely) as a social advocate to build goodwill and getting a restraining order of his own to keep the LaRussos away until he's good and ready to take them out (which he got, ironically, because Amanda barged into the Cobra Kai dojo to tell off Kreese after his students hurt her daughter).
  • Discussed in CSI's "Chaos Theory." After exhausting several theories as to how a college girl named Paige Wycoff ended up dead in a dumpster behind her dormitory, Grissom quotes Mencken, "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." He then adds that, since that's the case, they need to look for a solution that's messy, complicated, and right. Turns out the dumpster got hit by a passing car taking a short-cut in the rain at night while the girl was trying to retrieve her trash can that fell down the garbage chute. The driver didn't see her leaning in from behind it, pinned her to a wall causing internal injuries, & she fell in with the can. Ironically, both because of grief and because how absurd this solution is, Paige's parents refuse to believe that her daughter was the victim of a random accident and storm out of Grissom's office swearing that they will spend the rest of their lives searching for her "murderer".
  • Frasier: In one of the last Lilith episodes, Frasier tries to duck out of meeting her with a round of Reverse Psychology. Daphne suggests just talking openly and honestly to her, rather than the complicated and sure-to-fail mindgames. Frasier tells her they tried that when they were married.
    Frasier: We were better at mindgames.
  • Kaamelott: Elias the enchanter shows up to Kaamelott to warn that the Wolf Spirit is angry and demands a sacrifice, the easiest thing to do being to sacrifice the queen to it. He says this to Arthur (the queen's husband), Leodagan (her father), and Lancelot (who very much wants to be her lover) as if it was a perfectly rational thing to do.
  • Kamen Rider Geats: The eponymous hero has spent two thousand years playing the game and wishing for increasingly over the top things, all with the intention of reuniting with his Missing Mom. When asked why he didn’t just wish to see her, he reveals that his original wish was exactly that, only for it to be rejected by the management.
  • The Mandalorian: In "Chapter 9: The Marshal", Din Djarin's initial solution to the krayt dragon attacking Mos Pelgo and the local Sand People tribes is to just blow it away with his ship's guns. Cobb Vanth tells him it won't work: the dragon would hear him coming and burrow away.
  • Mission: Impossible: The Impossible Missions Force is tasked with performing impressive con jobs against America's enemies because, as mentioned at least Once an Episode, because of a "standing order" by the U.S. government, agents of the IMF are not allowed to assassinate or torture their targets. Occasionally additional explanations are given and they mostly come down to the fact that the enemy will be turned into a political martyr if they die and/or the enemy will immediately suspect that it was the Americans if it's a simple smash-and-grab.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale," California Superior Court Judge Catherine Lavinio is murdered in her home. She names the titular character— financier, criminal mastermind, and Evil Genius Dale "the Whale" Biederbeck—as her killer during a 911 call, and the crime scene is littered with clues suggesting that he was indeed the culprit. So why not just throw him in jail and be done with it? Because Dale lives up to his nickname by weighing over eight hundred pounds—he's too fat to fit through the doorframe of his apartment, let alone walk. To make matters worse, Dale possesses untold wealth that allows him to buy his way out of trouble; furthermore, he's infamous for having his personal army of lawyers drown San Francisco in Frivolous Lawsuits whenever the cops do try to bring him to court over his many illegal activities. Monk thus has to definitively prove that Dale committed the crime before a judge will sign off on a warrant for his arrest.
  • Sherlock: In the episode "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler explains that her cell phone is full of embarrassing secrets of many clients (mostly diplomats and tycoons from all over the world, including the UK) and is rigged to self-destruct if anybody tries to tamper with it to hack out the information. When Mycroft Holmes points out a second later that it just makes it easier for him to destroy the phone and prevent those secrets from getting out into the open, Irene immediately counters by pointing out that there are also many secrets in there that would benefit British Intelligence if they were privy to it, as well as only copies of certain bits of data she was able to photograph (and destroyed) when she was with said clients (and they will be pissed if Mycroft doesn't get them back). Result: Sherlock Holmes is forced to play a psychological game of cat and mouse with Irene to make her give him the password to the cell phone, which takes the better part of a year.
  • Stargate SG-1: In the episode "Zero Hour", an alien plant that is being studied in the lab at Stargate Command starts to grow uncontrollably and is quickly taking over the bunker, apparently because it metabolizes light at a rapid pace. Jack O'Neill hears this and wordlessly turns off the light of his office (with the obvious implication he will order the base's lights to be turned off, thinking that with no lights there won't be any growth). The scientist explaining the situation immediately tells him that 1) the plant will continue to grow like crazy even with the lights off (only a little bit slower) and 2) attempting pest control in pitch-black darkness is just asking for people to bumble around, probably get themselves hurt, and achieve nothing. O'Neill turns the lights back on and tells the scientist to Get Out! and fix this without having to bother him any further.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "The Enemy", the Enterprise finds a Romulan seriously wounded after a crash-landing on Galorndon Core and beam him aboard to be treated. Dr. Crusher eventually finds that he requires a blood transfusion and begins testing the crew for potential donors. When Picard asks "We can't use the replicator?", Crusher says "The molecules are too complex.".
      • Played with in "Deja Q". The Enterprise crew ask the currently depowered Q how he would resolve the issue of a de-orbiting moon, and he says he'd just alter the gravitational constant of the universe. It's a simple solution if you happen to be a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, but not much help to the cast — until it gives Geordi a "Eureka!" Moment on how they could locally reduce the gravitational constant (by playing games with the warp drive).
      • Similar to the Star Trek IV example, in "Darmok", the Enterprise crew figures out the general idea of how the Tamarians speak, but when Riker asks "If we know how they think, shouldn't we be able to get something across to them?", Data says that they can't because "The situation is analogous to understanding the grammar of a language but none of the vocabulary.", and without the proper context of expressions like "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra", they'd simply mutter gibberish back to them.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: When a Cardassian security program takes the station hostage in "Civil Defense", and Sisko tries to do as the Dukat recording says and surrender on behalf of the "revolting Bajoran workers" to end the lock-down, it naturally doesn't work, since there's no Cardassian security on the station to surrender to anymore.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Phage", Neelix's lungs are beamed out of his body by the Aliens of the Week. After the Doctor stabilizes him temporarily, another character suggests installing cybernetic lungs, but the Doctor replies with a handwave that Talaxian lungs are too complex to replicate properly with the equipment on hand.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Robin Hood: In some versions of the story, it's sometimes asked why Robin doesn't simply put an arrow in the Sheriff of Nottingham's heart. In the versions where some of the Merry Men take it upon themselves to kill him while Robin is away, the answer is made tragically obvious: as long as the Merry Men merely robbed people, they were outlaws and the responsibility of the Sheriff to handle. But killing the Sheriff, a man appointed by the king himself, means they are now directly challenging the king's direct authority and are thus rebels. Sure enough, that's what results in the Merry Men being wiped out, since there's a big difference between the Sheriff's hired goons and the army of actual, trained soldiers that's sent to wipe them out. Even the support they traditionally enjoyed from peasants dries up since the punishment for harboring traitors is much heavier than the one for harboring outlaws.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: One sketch has two kings having a problem with crossed wires and poor communication. Eventually they manage to get on the same wavelength, which becomes it's own problem as they're just sending messengers back and forth sharing the same message (and then not sending messengers because they're realised this and are waiting for the other guy to send their messenger over). Eventually, an irate third party from the farmers stuck inbetween the messengers going back-and-forth all day suggests just shooting the messenger (whose protests that his boss could just give him the day off come too late). And then in the awkward silence that follows, the king realizes his counterpart has probably done the exact same thing again.

  • In 1776, the proposal for independence that John Adams and Benjamin Franklin devise stalls in Congress. Franklin then pulls off an elaborate Glad You Thought of It scheme on Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to get him to make the proposal; Lee falls for it and rushes back to his colony to get the cause going. Adams points out that they could have simply asked Lee to help them, but Franklin explains that if they had, he'd have been doing them a favor and expected repayment in the future. By making Lee think it was his idea, they both advance their idea and avoid political entanglements.
  • In Hamlet, the titular character pulls this trope on himself to justify why he doesn't simply kill his treacherous Uncle Claudius, who murdered Hamlet's father to obtain the throne of Denmark. Prince Hamlet fears that the spirit who took his father's form to tell him this might be lying, and thus decides that he needs absolute proof of Claudius's guilt before he acts. Later, when he encounters Claudius kneeling in prayer, he tells himself that he could end it all right now with a quick sword thrust, but decides that this won't work either because if he murders his uncle while he's doing a good deed, he might end up in Heaven instead of having to pay for his crimes. This is also a case of Dramatic Irony, as Claudius isn't praying—rather, he's trying to, but can't because of his guilty conscience.
  • Deconstructed in Gilded Cages, Part IV of the Mrs. Hawking series. In a flashback, Malaika Shah is desperate to get food for her starving village, and Victoria decides to help. Her governess Elizabeth suggests that she simply ask Captain Reginald Hawking to intercede: he's not only enamored of Victoria and eager to help her, but a decorated military hero who the British government loves, so they'd be happy to do whatever he wants (especially since the action would be good publicity for them). It's made explicitly clear that this is not only the simplest plan, but the best one—but Victoria herself refuses because she doesn't want to use "charity" to get her way. Elizabeth correctly guesses that Victoria doesn't really care about the villagers and wants to perform an elaborate con for her own enjoyment, but she goes unheeded, and things turn bad very quickly.

    Video Games 
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Lampshaded in the final Allied mission "The Moon Shall Never Have Them", where the player commander must destroy Cherdenko's rocket shuttle before he can escape to space. Co-Commander Warren would then ask why not simply let him flee to space and get him out of their hair (though not stated, the fact that the Soviets have quite a lot of orbital weaponry is one such reason).
  • Fate/Grand Order: The initial idea for stopping Tiamat in her tracks was to evaporate the sea around her (they had a goddess who could do that), since Tiamat could only move in the water. They try it; and immediately afterwards it's revealed that she can create water so the "limitation" was a non-issue. The eventual plan for stopping and defeating her ends up being incredibly complicated, including things like digging a pit deep enough to reach the Underword, having a mage turn the water into flowers via Rules Lawyer-ing, and having the personification of death apply the concept of death on her. So much for just evaporating the water.
  • In one sidequest in Final Fantasy XIV, the Warrior is teaching Wiscar how to deal with the various monsters around Gyr Abania as part of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. They can either tell him to aim for a specific weak point where the monster is most fragile or to hit it really, really hard. In both cases, the monster goes down, but Wiscar is exhausted if he doesn't go for the weak point and it's implied to take much longer.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: According to the former employee leaving you voice mail messages, the killer animatrons in the game will attack you because they don't know what humans are - they think you're an animatronic endoskeleton without your costume and will try to force a costume onto you, killing you in the process. At one point he suggests the obvious answer of playing dead, so they think you're an empty costume instead. He quickly thinks better of it, saying that if they think you're an empty costume they'll try to shove a metal endoskeleton inside you, which would be even worse.
    • In Night 7, the Custom Night. If the animatrons are run by an AI, why not just hack them and make them less aggressive? Turns out you can do that and it works, but even setting their AI levels to 0 still doesn't make them harmless, not to mention hacking the bots gets you fired.
    • If the animatrons are trying to get you because they think you're an endoskeleton without your costume, why not just make a fake costume (or at least a mask) and wear it to trick them? This becomes a gameplay mechanic in the sequel. There are two animatronics the mask doesn't protect you from, and you can't do the things necessary to ward them off if you have the head on.
  • Granblue Fantasy: During the crossover with Doraemon, it's suggested to use the Anywhere Door to simply head to Eaustalica, the island of the Astrals that is the goal of the Player Character's quest. They actually do attempt it, but the Door opens over a wide empty span of water instead, leading everyone to conclude they'll have to make their way there the hard way. note 
  • Grand Theft Auto Online: In the "The Contract" update, the player is sent to a Triad-owned nightclub to retrieve a videotape so they can track down a person of interest. While the player is going to the club, Franklin asks Imani why she doesn't just hack their security system. She tells him that the system is so primitive, it's not hooked up to the internet.
  • In Grim Dawn, an early quest involves fixing the well for the survivor settlement at Devil's Crossing. The player can ask the mechanic why they don't simply use the nearby river instead, to which he points out that the river is choked with all of the dead bodies accumulating over the last few months of the titular Grim Dawn and the destruction of civilization.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Lorule had faced its share of war and strife over its Triforce, just like Hyrule. It grew to such a fever pitch that, in desperation, the Lorulean royal family used their wish to have their Triforce annihilated. It turned out to be a Cosmic Keystone causing Lorule to literally start crumbling in response, reducing it to the miserable state seen during the events of the game. After returning to Hyrule, Zelda realized just how pitiable Lorule had become without its Triforce, and wished upon theirs alongside Link to have it restored.
  • The Lost Vikings 2: After being time-travelled to The Golden Age of Piracy, the vikings are forced to rely on a family of fortune tellers, who cast teleportation spells on them to move them from level to level.
    Erik: I've lost all faith in teleportation.
    Olaf: Hey! Why don't we just swim from ship to ship?
    Erik: ...Olaf, you can't swim.
  • Mass Effect: On Virmire, you find the salarian STG team has constructed a small nuclear explosive to take out Saren's base. Ashley immediately suggests loading it onto the Normandy and dropping it on the base from the air, but the salarian commander shoots it down because the base is too well-defended by anti-aircraft batteries: it would be instantly shot down if they tried. Instead, Shepard's team and the salarians have to split into several squads and attack the base on foot so that they can shut down the air defenses before the Normandy can fly in with the nuke.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: It's revealed that the "treasure" behind the Thousand-Year Door is a Sealed Evil in a Can the villains want to use to Take Over the World. One of Mario's partners suggests they stop gathering or try to destroy the Crystal Stars needed to unlock it, but Frankly says that as the seal on the Thousand-Year Door is weakening over time, they need to use the Crystal Stars in order to re-seal it.
  • In Shining Force II, when the party finds out that Zeon wants the Jewel of Darkness to regain his powers. As the party currently has the jewel, Peter suggests they just keep it forever. Unfortunately, Creed, a retired demon, informs the party that the location Zeon is at is slowly gathering evil energy, so they will have to go confront him.
  • Persona 4: A person's Shadow Archetype goes berserk and One-Winged Angel if its host rejects it. This inevitably happens for every victim the protagonists try to save, resulting in a boss fight. By the eighth time, the party tries to stop the victim before they can utter the dreaded "you're not me!", only for Kanji to point out the victim is just going to keep hurting emotionally if they don't let it all out now, and that they should just let it happen and "kick the Shadow's ass" like usual.
  • In Psychonauts 2, when Raz and Ford enter Nona's mind to reseal Maligula, Raz wonders why they don't just blast Maligula into oblivion. Ford explains that Maligula is essentially the personification of a dark, primal part of Nona's mind, held over from her distant ancestors as a means of survival. If they were to remove such a foundational part of her mind, the whole thing could unravel.
  • Star Trek Online: In the mission "Capture the Flag", the Romulan Republic flagship RRW Lleiset gets boarded by the Vaadwaur. At one point, after regaining control of the transporter room, the PC can suggest just beaming the leader into space, but your Mission Control Lieutenant Gaius Selan says he already tried it: he muses that transporter jammers are standard equipment for the Romulan military to prevent Weaponized Teleportation, and that it's likely the Vaadwaur thought of it as well.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: In Shadow of Revan, following the Battle of Rishi, you learn that Revan has fled to Yavin 4 with his remaining forces, hoping to reawaken the last remnants of the former Sith Emperor's spirit so he can be permanently killed. The Player Character can suggest just letting Revan do it — Darth Vitiate dying would be a net positive for both the Republic and the Empire — but Darth Marr points out that if Revan cannot defeat the Emperor after awakening him, the Eldritch Abomination that is Darth Vitiate is likely to start draining the life from entire planets. Unfortunately, fighting the Order of Revan on Yavin ends up providing enough death to fuel Vitiate's revival anyway.
  • Transformers Aligned Universe:
    • Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: When Swindle and Shockwave, bearing the titular Dark Spark, arrive at the gates of the Decepticon capital of Kaon they discover a huge Autobot army laying siege in order to stop them. Blast-Off, Swindle's fellow Combaticon, suggests he simply take the Dark Spark from Swindle and deliver it by air. Shockwave dismisses the suggestion as being too risky: if Blast-Off were to be shot down or otherwise drop the Dark Spark, for all they know it might explode and take all of Kaon with it. Combaticon commander Onslaught agrees with Shockwave's assessment and orders him to retreat to a safe location with the Dark Spark, while the Combaticons begin clearing a path.
    • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron: The Autobots have stolen an entire lake of Energon from the Decepticons and are transporting it aboard a gigantic transport vehicle. When Swindle manages to damage its drivetrain, it transforms into a flying mode and takes off. As he fights his way through, he wonders why the Autobots didn't just use the flight mode from the start, to which Onslaught replies that it probably takes so much Energon it'd eat up most of the fuel it was carrying. Unknown to the Combaticons, Perceptor had raised the same issue earlier, but Optimus decided it was worth the risk.

  • Awkward Zombie:
    • In Rules of Engagement, rather than face him one-on-one, the protagonist throws all six of their Pokémon at Lysandre, pointing out that there's no reason to obey league regulations when Lysandre is trying to blow up the world. The police arrive and arrest the protagonist.
    • In Writer's Blocked, Alan Wake is wandering the woods at night, finding pages from a manuscript that he doesn't remember writing, and everything in the manuscript is coming true. Alan tries to write a happy ending, but since that's not how magic works in this setting, it does nothing.note 
  • After being beaten up by the Cossack Bots in Bob and George, Mega Man drags himself to Dr. Cossack's lab with no arms and mutilated stumps for legs. Proto Man points out that he could have just teleported, to which Mega Man starts to curse—and then remembers that his teleporter is broken anyways.
  • El Goonish Shive: When Pandora meets the Emissary of Magic in Grace's dreams, she immediately asks him why he's contacting Grace through her dreams instead of picking up the phone and calling her (or better yet, someone else who can more directly deal with the problem). He is forced to explain that he only remembers who Grace is, why she would be the person to contact, or details about what he's trying to explain to her when using the spell to talk in her dreams. When awake, all he knows is that the problem he's trying to address still exists and that using the dream spell will let him talk to someone who can do something about it.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In comic #276 during the Azure City arc, upon being told about the Snarl and that the rifts in the world are holes in its prison, Vaarsuvius asks why the gods couldn't just repair the rifts themselves. Lord Shinjo responds that they could, but would require the threads of reality that make up the world to do so, meaning they would have to destroy the current world in order to make a new world without the rifts. It's eventually revealed that even this isn't a permanent fix as the Snarl has been breaking free from its prison for a long time.
    • Played with in that it's the backup plan of last resort that won't work. When it's revealed that the Dark One's essence could help the other pantheons permanently seal the Snarl, Durkon is tasked with trying to convince Redcloak to cooperate in channeling the essence. Minrah tries to ease the pressure Durkon is feeling by pointing out that if he fails, the Dark One would help make the new world and the Snarl is trapped forever. However, Thor puts the kibosh on that plan. It turns out there is a gap where the gods have to wait for the Snarl to stop rampaging after a world is unmade before they can make a new one, and due to being a newer god, the Dark One doesn't have enough energy from mortal worship to survive the intermission. To seal the Snarl once and for all, they need to do it with the current world or all is lost.
    • In comic #1273, "Julia" suggests to Roy about using Sunny's Anti-Magic beam against Team Evil for an easy win. Roy points out several reasons it won't work. Firstly, it's not that hard to outmanoeuvre. Secondly, Team Evil has two powerful spellcasters and even if they could trap one in Sunny's beam, the other can still blast high-level magic against them. Finally, even if by some miracle they manage to trap both of Team Evil's spellcasters, Team Evil has non-magical party members who could deal with Sunny.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: One comic has Superman about to punch a mugger, who protests that he's only doing this because his job at the factory doesn't pay him enough. Superman then goes to the factory owner, who protests they can't pay the workers more because the government doesn't encourage it. An increasingly-angry Superman goes to the president, who says the economy is what it is because statisticians don't understand chaos. When asked "so who do I punch?", the statistician tells him he'll need to study math, history, philosophy... so Superman punches the mugger.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Toughs accidentally cause a population boom when they break a galaxy-spanning teleporter (that functions by creating a copy of an individual at the destination) by not destroying the original and sending one individual to 950 million different locations, causing perfect doubles to appear around the galaxy. One guy reunited with his wife/wives thinks he's found the perfect solution, only for the women to preemptively shoot down anything that rhymes with "gleesome".

    Web Original 
  • Minilife TV: In "The X-Team Attacks", when Chris and Ian try to rescue the hostages locked in a room full of bombs, their first idea is to cut the door open with their Starsabers. However, the hostages tell them that the bombs are connected to the door and they'll detonate if they try to cut it open, so they try to find another way to get them out.
  • In Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Sarge considers turning either Grif or Simmons into a cyborg to replace Lopez as Red Team's "Mechanicle-type person". It's pointed out that instead of doing that, Sarge could build another robot, but Sarge shoots that down on the logic that a second robot could be reprogrammed just as they believe Lopez was. (The truth is a bit more complicated)
  • Schaffrillas Productions: In Episode 1 of "Grievous and Sid", General Grievous becomes fixated on having a 2-pack of Totino's pizza rolls that Watto (who claims that Grievous can enjoy them even if he doesn't have a mouth) is selling for 500 cents, which neither Grievous or Sid the Sloth can afford. When Grievous asks Watto what's stopping them from simply killing him and claiming the pizza rolls for themselves, Watto explains that a bomb inside the bag will go off if they kill him, which will destroy the pizza rolls.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-2305 is a book titled "great ideas that are TOTALY [sic] USELESS". True to its name, it contains creative or simple ways to neutralize random SCPs — along with a log explaining how this would backfire. For example, SCP-2315 is an ancient stone bridge that makes anyone who crosses it irrationally hate Carthage. According to 2305, the Foundation could simply blow it up, but then the effect would spread to every bridge in Italy, and then Italy would declare war on Tunisia for no reason.
    • In the fan movie SCP: Dollhouse, after the operatives determine that the bizarre happenings in the house they were sent to are tied to a laptop running a glitchy program that warps reality, one of them asks why not just hit the power switch. Fletcher, the tech guy, immediately rebuffs the idea, because there's no telling what will happen if they turn off the machine.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In "Mario Does Literally Anything for Views", SMG4 is worried that he will not get 5 million subscribers in time for the Milestone Celebration that he has planned for the following week. When Mario points out that he could just move it to a later date, SMG4 responds that he can't as he has hyped it up too much.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • After the original plan of invading the Fire Nation on the Day of the Black Sun (a solar eclipse that strips firebenders of their powers) fails, Aang's new plan in regards to Sozin's Comet (a comet that drastically boosts the power of Firebending) and Firelord Ozai is to wait it out rather than fight Ozai at the peak of his power. Zuko then tells him that Ozai plans to use that power to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground, thus putting Aang on a deadline.
    • As the Gaang start to worry that Aang might not be ready to face the Fire Lord, they decide to seek out Iroh, who is the only person they think could realistically stand a chance against Ozai during Sozin's Comet (Iroh is a firebender himself and thus would be equally empowered by the comet). When they do find him, he declines, not only because he's planning on leading the Order of the White Lotus in liberating Ba Sing Se, but also because if Iroh was the one to defeat Ozai, history would just see one brother killing another for power. For the war to end peacefully, it must be the Avatar, as representative of the Four Nations, who defeats the Fire Lord.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In the episode "What is Reality?" Commissioner Gordon ends up trapped in a virtual reality program by the Riddler, where he is forced to experience high G-forces. Batman attempts to free Gordon by merely unplugging the machine, but the Riddler reveals that doing so will result in Gordon experiencing a rather sudden and fatal stop, forcing Batman to enter the program.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • "Long Time Listener, First Time Bob": When Clem Clements hijacks his old radio station so he can do whatever he wants on the radio again, with the Belchers (minus Linda) caught in the middle, the manager of the radio station asks Patrick, the radio engineer, to shut them down. Patrick admits he does have a button to shut them down, but he also points out they can just enter his booth to press the button again to resume what they're doing since there's nothing stopping them from doing it since he's outnumbered.
    • "Glued, Where's My Bob?": Bob gets superglued to the restaurant toilet due to a misfired prank — on the same day he's scheduled for an interview with Coasters Magazine, no less. A couple of times, characters suggest he simply detach the seat from the toilet, but this isn't feasible because Felix Fischoeder's redesign of their bathroom gave them a seatless toilet.
  • Darkwing Duck: In the pilot "Darkly Dawns the Duck", when Taurus Bulba wants Hammerhead and his cohorts to steal the ramrod while it's being moved by train, Hammerhead and the others are a little nervous about robbing a moving train and wonder why they couldn't just wait until it stopped before stealing the ramrod. Bulba replies with this:
    Taurus Bulba: (Jovially) Oh! You mean when the army gets control of the weapon (turning angry and snorting) with its tanks and jeeps, and hundreds of guns!
  • This is quite common in The Fairly Oddparents, where the simple solution is often forbidden by Da Rules.
    • In "Nectar of the Odds", Timmy is determined to get his hands on tickets to see Crash Nebula on Ice, but it's sold out, and the only tickets he can find are scalped ones that cost $1,500. Wanda explains that he can't just wish for tickets because that would involve stealing them from someone who already has them, and he can't just wish for $1,500 to buy the scalped tickets because that's counterfeiting. He's forced to earn the money by selling lemonade.
    • The plot of "Abra-Catastrophe!" revolves around Timmy losing his Fairy-versary Muffin, which is capable of granting any wish - even ones that defy Da Rules - to whoever takes a bite out of it. At one point, Cosmo asks why Timmy doesn't just wish for the Muffin back. Timmy congratulates him on the great idea, only for Wanda to reveal they can't, as the muffin's magic is more powerful than theirs. Turns out Cosmo knew this; he just wanted to know why Timmy hadn't tried the obvious solution yet.
    • "Back to the Norm" has Mr. Crocker and Norm the Genie teaming up to try and defeat Timmy and capture his fairies. When all of Crocker's overly-elaborate death traps backfire on him, Norm suggests that it would be easier to just do something like sending Timmy to Mars where he will suffocate from lack of oxygen. Crocker shoots down the idea because he believes that the only way to successfully capture Cosmo and Wanda is if Timmy is destroyed on Earth, much to Norm's frustration. Norm eventually grows tired enough of Crocker's idiocy that he decides to leave him and go grant wishes for Timmy instead, one of them being his Mars idea, with Crocker being the one sent there instead.
    • The episode "Parent Hoods" has Timmy's parents being arrested after they are mistaken for a similar-looking criminal duo. When Timmy tries wishing his parents free, Wanda informs him that it won't work due to them being so entwined in the US Legal System that it could take years to get them out of jail, even if magic is used. Because of this, Timmy decides to get the real culprits caught to prove his parents' innocence.
    • In "Odd, Odd West", when Timmy tries to wish for the deed to the wild west town that's about to be torn down, Wanda explains that they need to actually know where the deed is first.
      Wanda: We're fairies, not psychics.
    • In "Five Days of FLARG", when Mark, who had gone into Self-Imposed Exile to escape from his crazy fiancee Mandie, is depressed that he's missing the titular Yugopotamian celebration, Timmy asks him why he doesn't just go home for the holidays. The broadcast they're watching which shows said celebration then reveals that Mandie is still waiting for Mark to an Ax-Crazy manner.
  • Futurama: In "A Big Piece of Garbage", a massive ball of 20th-century garbage is headed toward Earth. Leela suggests the most obvious solution, shooting a missile at it, only to be told that the ball is so viscous that any missiles fired at it would just go straight through.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Fight Fighters", Dipper is drawn into a battle against Rumble McSkirmish, a video game character he inadvertently summoned to the real world. Soos tries to help Dipper by fiddling with Rumble's health bar, but the HUD just flickers intangibly.
    Soos: It was worth a shot.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • A repeated statement by Uncle is that "magic must defeat magic!" and, sure enough, whenever a magic-empowered enemy appears (which is like 99.9% of the major enemies) they are completely immune to everything but magical attacks (or martial arts, or magically-empowered martial arts) and by the middle part of the series Captain Black and his subordinates don't even bother to do more than tell Team Chan where to go and arrest any defeated human goons the chaos leaves behind.
    • It also turns out that magic as powerful as the Chinese Zodiac-based one within the Talismans cannot be destroyed, just transferred from one recipient to another, which means that Jackie's attempt to get rid of them in the third season just leads to another worldwide scavenger hunt, only this time for magically-empowered animals instead of talismans.
  • Johnny Test:
    • The episode "Johnny Escape from Bling-Bling Island" has Bling-Bling breaking into the lab and stealing a shoe from every pair belonging to Susan the night before she and Mary are to attend a dinner party involving Gil with the girls instructing Johnny and Dukey to get them back. When Johnny suggests that they could instead just buy more down at the shoe store, Susan frantically tells him that she can't because most of her collection is imported and that it would take weeks to order new ones in.
      Johnny: Okay, I think I'm gonna go now, because you guys are both nuts!
      Susan: Johnny, there are a lot of things boys will never understand about girls, and one of them is their love of shoes. I barely understand it!
    • The episode "No Homework for Johnny" has Susan and Mary building Johnny a robot designed to help him with his schoolwork, only for Johnny to inadvertently use it to steal things from all over town due to the robot having no concept of money or ownership. During the family's discussion of how to fix things and get out of trouble with the law, Lila suggests that the easiest way would be to destroy the robot so that the thefts can't be traced back to them, only for the girls to inform her that doing so would be a bad idea because the lithium oxide batteries powering it would contaminate the air and kill them all if they were ever to be taken apart. Instead, they opt to secretly return everything that was stolen and give the robot to one of their neighbors as a gift.
  • Justice League:
    • In the Pilot Movie, after hearing how the Martian Manhunter defeated the Imperium with a powerful nerve gas before, the Flash asks him why he doesn't do it again. J'onn explains that the gas can only be made from a rare Martian plant, and the only sample he brought with him was destroyed by the Imperium when they captured him.
      Flash: Uh, what's Plan B?
    • The episode "Hereafter'' gives us two:
      • When Superman finds out that Vandal Savage has a time machine, he asks the latter why he never used it to stop his past self from destroying the world. Vandal explains that he can't travel to a point in the past when he existed. Fortunately, since Superman was flung to the future during that time, he's able to go.
      • When they discover that the only power source that'll keep the time machine active long enough is a zero-point energy generator that was stolen by some roach-men, Superman asks Vandal if he can make a new one. Vandal reveals that he's already working on one. It'll be ready in 50 years.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar:
    • Parodied in the episode "Popcorn Panic", where Zookeeper Alice greatly enforces the "do not feed the animals" rule (much to the zoo animals' chagrin as it means that they won't be able to get popcorn anymore). To solve the problem, Julien suggests that they simply get rid of Alice, only for Skipper to shoot it down on the belief that more Alices will just take her place (forty-two more to be exact, according to Kowalski).
    • In "High Moltage", the Penguins want to leave the Zoo to catch the premiere of the new Commodore Danger movie, only to discover that the zoo has installed a new security system that shocks animals that try to leave. When several of their plans to escape fail, Kowalski points out that if worst comes to worst they could see the movie another day, only for Skipper to refuse, pointing out that the movie is so popular that unless they go today they'll almost certainly have everything spoiled, ruining the point of going.
  • Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja: In "Dawn of the Driscol" Jerry Driscol attempts to complete his Doomsday Device following his accidental resurrection. In the final battle Viceroy desperately tries to find a way to shut it down before it destroys the world, Howards suggests simply cutting the power only for Viceroy to reveal that it's powered by an internal nuclear reactor meaning there is no way to do so.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Marge vs. the Monorail", when the titular monorail goes out of control, it is suggested to simply cut the power off, but the idea is shut down because the monorail is solar-powered.
    Train Technician, exasperated: "Solar powered!" When will people learn?
  • South Park:
    • "White People Renovating Houses" has Randy and the town's rednecks led by Darryl Weathers come into conflict when Randy's eponymous home renovation show keeps getting interrupted by the rednecks' protesting over losing their jobs with Confederate imagery and Randy worries about the damage they're doing to the show's brand. Darryl points out Randy could just remove "White People" from their show name. Randy then reveals he thought of that already, but he hasn't done it because literally every other name has been taken. He even lists some of them.
    • "Unfulfilled" has an Amazon fulfillment center employee named Josh Carter getting trapped inside a small cardboard box due to a workplace accident. When an interviewer asks why he doesn't attempt to get out of the box, Josh explains that doing so would kill him because his organs are so severely compacted they'd spill out if the box was ever opened. This sadly happens anyway in the following episode when Jeff Bezos tricks a group of kids into opening Josh's box to kill him to keep him from interfering in Bezos's plans.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: Played for laughs in "First First Contact". When Kayshon suggests warping around the radioactive Asteroid Thicket rather than find a way to power through it, he gets shouted down by the rest of the bridge crew simultaneously, conveniently preventing the audience from hearing why it won't work. The plot demands they go through the field, so that's what they're going to do.
    Kayshon: It was merely a suggestion!
  • Street Sharks: In "Shark of Steel", when Dr. Piranoid sends the SharkBot to break Repteel out of prison, Slobster wonders why bother when the cops are just going to give him to Piranoid in the morning. Piranoid reminds him that it was with the promise of reprograming Repteel with the personality of a bunny, which, if he wants to keep his Villain with Good Publicity status, he has to follow through on. This way, he gets to keep said good PR, retain Repteel's viability as a minion, and ruin the Street Sharks image in one fell swoop.
  • Stōked: The episode "Reef and the Evil Totem" has Reef being cursed with extremely bad luck after taking an ancient totem from the grounds near the waterfall. When he finally accepts it to be true after much denial, he attempts to lift it by selling the totem to George. Kahuna however informs Reef that simply giving the totem away won't fix things and that he will remain cursed unless he returns it to its resting place, prompting Reef to do so as quickly as possible.
  • SWAT Kats: In "A Bright and Shiny Future", the SWAT Kats are transported to a Bad Future ruled by the Metallikats. Meeting up with the few remaining resistance members (made up of the supporting cast), the SWAT Kats suggest seizing control of the Central Robot Control Matrix, which is what the Metallikats use to control their robot followers. Commander Feral retorts the Enforcers already tried that, and he and his niece Felina were the only survivors (and the SWAT Kats' own future counterparts also perished during the battle). With no other options, they try anyway.
  • Thunderbirds Are Go: During the Cold Open of "Heist Society", when talking about the transportation of an newly discovered particle, Alan wonders why they don't just fly the thing. Brains explains that the particle is highly unstable, especially to magnet fields, and above a certain altitude, the Earth's EM-field is enough to set it off. As such, it's being transported below sea-level on a mag-lev train.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers: During the "Rebirth" trilogy, the Decepticons gain possession of the key to the Plasma Energy Chamber, whose energies could wipe out entire planets. The Nebulans suggest that the Autobots simply destroy the key before the Decepticons can use it. Optimus Prime is against this, as Alpha Trion had informed him that the key needed to remain intact in order for a "miracle" to happen. The argument ultimately becomes moot, due to the key being used to activate the chamber not long after.
    • Transformers: Animated: In Season 2 "A Bridge Too Close, Part II", when Starscream and his clone army arrive at Megatron's mine headquarters and attacks him for his Space Bridge, Optimus Prime wants to help fight against them. Bumblebee asks why don't they let Starscream and his clones take down Megatron, Optimus points out they can't afford to have any Decepticons go through the Space Bridge to get to Cybertron.
  • Uncle Grandpa: In "Charlie Burgers", when the titular character of the episode, who is a talking dog, gets his ball stuck on Angryman Johnson's roof, Uncle Grandpa's solution to get his ball is to turn the world upside down and have it fall off the roof. When Gus asks why don't they just ask Giant Realistic Flying Tiger to fly up to the roof and get the ball, Uncle Grandpa said she's in the shower and you should never disturb a lady during bath time. After turning the world upside down and Charlie's ball ends up heading towards a black hole with Charlie following it, Gus asks why don't they just have the world turn back the way it was and have gravity pull Charlie back, Uncle Grandpa said gravity is just a theory and decides to call Giant Realistic Flying Tiger to help them because this is a real emergency.
  • The Zeta Project: In the first episode of the show, Agent Bennett explains to his subordinates why they cannot just shoot the runaway Infiltration Unit Zeta (and as a matter of fact, he reads Agent West the riot act when he tries this with his back-up piece later in the same episode): 1) Zeta is an advanced assassination robot which should be impossible to hack, so they need to retrieve him intact so they can figure out who reprogrammed him; 2) As well, Zeta is an incredibly expensive piece of equipment and the government would really like to keep said investment as intact as possible; 3) Because he's an assassination robot, they really want to prevent Zeta from escalating and possibly injuring many innocent bystanders as collateral damage (same risk if they use heavy weaponry to try to take him down in any populated areas).

You can't just casually put The Stinger here, it'll cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox!


Video Example(s):


Can't Kill the Pizzly Bears

When Mrs. Tuntley offers to shoot the pizzly bears that are preventing them from rescuing the students, Dr. French points out pizzlies are endangered species and they're not actively killing anyone right now.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SimpleSolutionWontWork

Media sources: