Follow TV Tropes


Stating the Simple Solution

Go To

Lister: Why don't we scrape away this mortar here, slide one of these bricks out, then using a rope weaved from strands of this hessian, rig up a kind of a pulley system so that when a guard comes in, using it as a trip wire, gets laid out, and we put Rimmer in the guard's uniform, he leads us out, we steal some swords, and fight our way back to the 'bug!
Kryten: Or we could use the teleporter.
Lister: Or, in a pinch, we could use the teleporter.
Red Dwarf, "Rimmerworld"

There is a problem. A dramatic, elaborate, and dangerous (and sometimes, pretty darn cool) solution is proposed to solve it. It's the Only Way! Then some other jerk points out that a much simpler Mundane Solution exists that would probably be more effective.

Most often, it's a villain (usually of the Diabolical Mastermind or Evil Overlord variety) proposing the complicated scheme, and it is a savvy minion (or occasionally even The Hero himself) questioning their boss's grade-A Bond Villain Stupidity. However, it's not unheard of for clever villains to brag about the fact that they're eschewing elaborate Death Traps and intend to just shoot the hero, making them a No-Nonsense Nemesis. Sometimes, it's a Hyper-Competent Sidekick wondering why the hero is adhering to Honor Before Reason.

There are fanfictions written for this sole purpose.


See also Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, Actually a Good Idea, and Lampshade Hanging. Just Eat Gilligan is built around not having anyone do this. If someone actually does the simple solution, Reality Ensues. If the simple solution is well acknowledged as an oversight, expect Didn't Think This Through to be a response.


    open/close all folders 

  • As part of an ad campaign for the introduction of Netflix to Canada, one commercial features a boy watching a Bar Brawl scene in a Western on TV. At the end of the commercial, when two of the cowboys are duelling hand-to-hand on the second floor, the boy remarks, "They know that they have guns, right?"

    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, Sanji's first wanted poster is a comically crude sketch of his face. The pirate Duval, who happens to look just like the sketch, keeps getting into fights because people constantly mistake him for Sanji thanks to the wanted poster. Eventually, Duval tracks Sanji down to get revenge for all the trouble he's been put through. When Sanji asks Duval why he didn't just change his appearance somehow (like getting a haircut), Duval takes a moment to think before he admits that he never thought of that.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • King Cold advises his son Frieza that revenge would be easier by just blowing up the Earth from space. Frieza rejects this notion, stating that he wants to see Goku suffer. One episode later, both Frieza and Cold are killed by Trunks.
    • After being warned from the future that in three years, two androids built by Dr. Gero will murder all of them, Bulma does this when she suggests simply finding out where Dr. Gero is and killing him before he activates the androids. She's promptly shot down because Goku and Vegeta like the sound of the challenge these androids will bring. In some versions, Krillin also tells her in secret that it's best to give former villains Piccolo and Vegeta a mutual enemy. Goku also suggests that since Dr. Gero hasn't built the androids yet, it would be tantamount to killing an innocent person, which he doesn't want to do (of course, he's forgetting that Gero was the lead scientist of the Red Ribbon Army, and so most of their tech was probably built by him). Vegeta, meanwhile, says that even by the time they found Dr. Gero, it would be too late.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ and the subsequent Dragon Ball Super adaptation; after being revived, Frieza announces his plan for revenge against Goku. Tagoma, one of his minions, speaks out against it, telling him that he could just go back to ruling his empire in space with Goku and the Z-Fighters never the wiser. In response, Frieza either kills him on the spot (Resurrection 'F') or uses him as his personal training dummy for four months (Super).
    • In the original Dragon Ball series, Staff Officer Black insists to Commander Red that they're no match for Goku and the smartest thing to do is simply to let him have the Dragon Balls, escape while they can, and rebuild the Red Ribbon Army later. Of course, after killing Red and taking over the army for himself, Black refuses to take his own advice and tries to beat Goku using a Mini-Mecha.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Shishio and Kenshin are having their climactic duel. Both of them are severely injured and weakened, and Shishio's 15 minute-time limit for fighting has elapsed. Yumi (Shishio's lover) and Houji (Shishio's right-hand man) are watching, and Houji has a rifle. Yumi asks Houji why he just doesn't shoot Kenshin... Houji throws his gun away, on the grounds of his belief that Lord Shishio will win. He doesn't.
  • Code Geass offers a non-fatal version: when Lelouch learns that his best friend is the pilot of the Humongous Mecha that's thwarted him at every turn, his partner C.C. asks why he doesn't just use his Geass to make said friend join La Résistance. She guesses that it's either pride, sentimentality, or distaste for robbing another person of their free will; Lelouch responds that it's all three.
  • At the climax of the Non-Indicative First Episode (filming a movie) of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagato confronts Itsuki, who refuses to join forces with her. Nagato's shoulder-mounted cat suddenly starts talking, asking why she doesn't just use mind control on the guy already, since judging by what she's shown so far it ought to be well within her powers. But that's not in the script, so after a scramble to shut him up Nagato has her final battle with Mikuru.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu inverts the trope — ("No, you can't just shoot him!") — when Sōsuke is challenged to a no-holds-barred martial arts battle and, after being warned by his opponent not to pull any punches, calmly shoots the guy with a rubber bullet. Once it's explained to him that using a gun isn't allowed, he repeats the performance with his next opponent by gassing him with a fire extinguisher — and when it's further explained to him that he's supposed to be fighting solely hand-to-hand, he downs his third opponent via a Hey, Catch! with a grenade followed by several Groin Attacks, explaining afterwards that the pin was still in the grenade, and clearly never quite grasping the concept of a "fair fight" at all.
  • Practically said verbatim in Gantz. Some of the recruits have difficulty being willing to do what they're tasked with and pay the price for it.
  • Sort of inverted in chapter 54 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. Ed and Ling are discussing how best to attack the Big Bad. Ling seems to think it's a better idea to take on the mooks first, since their enemy clearly outmatches them. Edward would rather go to the point. They share this exchange:
    Ling: Haven't you heard the saying, "if you want to shoot the leader, first aim for his horse"?!
    Edward: If you want to shoot the leader, then you should just SHOOT HIM!!
    Ling: (thinking) Is he stupid...?
  • Death Note: Inverted when Soichiro confronts Mello with the eponymous Artifact of Doom; Light spends a few unpleasant moments at his desk before his father's refusal to take a human life gets him shot. Light, of course, finds this incomprehensible.
    Light: What are you doing, hurry up and write his name down!... Now's the time to kill him! Kill him right now!!
  • A variant appears in Bleach. During the beginning of the Hueco Mundo arc, the Big Bad sends one of his minions, Ulquiorra, to Earth to antagonize Ichigo and test his Power Level. After slapping Ichigo around a bit and leaving him in the dust, Ulquiorra reports back to the Big Bad that Ichigo is Not Worth Killing. Another of the Big Bad's minions, Grimmjow, gets annoyed and demands they just kill him anyway to be sure. Grimmjow eventually goes over his boss' head and hunts down Ichigo on his own, but the Big Bad reins him in before he can finish him off: Turns out the Big Bad had a secret plan in store for the hero.
  • In Digimon Adventure, after Vamdemon has captured Tailmon and starts rounding up the citizens of Odaiba (separating children from adults so that Tailmon can identify the eighth Child), Picodevimon asks why they don't just kill them all at once to be sure. Vamdemon states that it doesn't suit his aesthetic, although there's also the implication that he wanted to feed off of their fear (and their blood). This comes back to bite him in the ass courtesy of Angewomon's Arrow of Light. Had Vamdemon heeded Picodevimon's advice, he wouldn't have had to evolve into his Ultimate form at the expense of his intelligence and then had to go through a byzantine plan in Digimon Adventure 02.
  • Mazinger Z: In one episode The Dragon Baron Ashura captured Kouji and Mazinger-Z and gave him the "join-us-or-die" choice. After the Kouji's predictable answer, Ashura sentenced him to death, starting a bunch of giant power saws and drills to cut Mazinger-Z to pieces. The another Dragon Count Brocken was watching the scene through a monitor and he stated Ashura beat around the bush too much and complicated things unnecessarily, and shooting Kabuto would be easier and quicker.
  • Muteki Kanban Musume: Megumi as the Combat Pragmatist asks Miki at episode 3A why is she fighting an Angry Guard Dog when she could easily avoid it. At episode 5 B, after she and Miki beat someone to use him as a stepping stone to escape a well, she recognized that the guy had a rope and should’ve just let him rescue them.
  • A minor example happens in a mini-comic in Fruits Basket. Kyo learns that he'll be going to the same school as Yuki and throws a tantrum about it. Yuki asks why, if he's so determined to not go, did Kyo simply not bomb the entrance exam on purpose.
    Kyo: Why didn't I think of that?!?
    Yuki and Shigure: Because you're stupid.
  • Played for Laughs in the Haiyore! Nyarko-san mini-episodes Nyaruani. Mahiro is reading the first Nyarko-San novel and asks Cuuko: "You wanted to see Nyarko badly enough that you joined a criminal organization, but then you joined the Planetary Defense Organization thanks to an uncle in H.R. So why didn't you just join the PDO to begin with so you could see her as a colleague?" Cuuko responds by lighting the novel on fire and telling Mahiro it's a warning.
  • In Fairy Tail, Gajeel is fighting an enemy who can surround everyone with poisonous water. He's fighting but running out of air when Levy swoops in and uses an Underwater Kiss to give him air. Levy is horribly embarrassed when Gajeel later points out she could have just used her particular ability- magical writing that becomes whatever word is written- to conjure air without having to do that.
  • In Karin, as the titular character angsts over how her vampiric instincts react to Usui's depression, her family just tells her to "Bite him already" since that would fix both their issues.
  • In Cross Ange, when Ange, Tusk, and Vivian meet up with the survivors of Arzenal inside the Aurora, Ange proposes a simple solution so that Libertus will succeed: "Why not just join with the DRAGONs? We have a common enemy and they're willing to cooperate with us. They're humans who can be reasoned with unlike our humans here". Everyone does agree, except for Jill.
  • In My Monster Secret, Youko, a half-vampire, gets deep suntans from just brief exposure to sunlight (so much so that just walking to school leaves her looking like she was deliberately tanning on the beach the day before). She undergoes military-style training from Aizawa in order to learn how to go from shadow to shadow and minimize her exposure, but stops short when she reaches a point were there are no shadows. Just when she's about to give up, Asahi remarks that it's too bad Youko can't just use sunblock, figuring that she must have already tried it before...only for Youko to get embarrassed and look away. She comes to school the next day with her skin lily-white and admits to her friends that she'd never thought of sunblock before, to which they both reply "We already figured that out."
  • In the Saki Spin-Off "Saki Biyori", this happens twice in Shindouji's second chapter, in which, as a result of one thing leading to another, the "round robin journal" used to chronicle the club's activities ends up getting a comic strip that everyone contributes to. When Club President Mairu is unable to continue, her best friend Himeko asks her whether they need one, causing Mairu to issue a ban. Popular demand forces them to bring the comic strip back, though, but Himeko has another plan in mind- giving the comic an ending.
  • Angel Beats!: One of the SSS's plans to get at Angel is to forge her name on the midterm exams and submit terrible answers in her name so she fails her classes. Problem: "Angel" is a nickname they've given her, and none of them know her real name. They panic, and spend a while brainstorming elaborate schemes like breaking into the teachers' lounge and find some way to look at their notes... then Otonashi just walks up to her and asks what her name is. She gives it freely.

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, the third Blue Beetle has a race of evil aliens called the Reach as villains, led by the Negotiator. The first thing said by the Negotiator's Dragon is "Why don't we just kill him?" to which the Negotiator replies, "No. Not without study."
  • An early story of ROM: Space Knight reverses this trope: After Rom is captured alive by some Dire Wraith scientists, they try to use the hero as a test subject. The Big Bad who commands them will have none of this and orders Rom killed as he is way too dangerous to keep alive. The scientists argue the point, but they ultimately comply. Fortunately, they are still so reluctant to do so that they take too long to get that task done that Rom still escapes in time.
  • Lampshaded in the following exchange from one of Tharg's Future Shocks from 2000 AD, written by Alan Moore, about a school that teaches its students how to be a proper villain.
    Mr. Dreadspawn: Now you have the hero in your power at last. What do you do, Doctor Devastation?
    Doctor Devastation: Uhh... Shoot him?
    Mr. Dreadspawn: Give me the strength! How's he going to escape and defeat you if you shoot him?
  • In Lucky Luke, the Dalton brothers capture Luke more than once and, despite Jack and William suggesting just to kill him, Joe has always a "crueler" form of revenge that would let Luke finally escape from one way.
  • Pretty much the same thing happens in the The Punisher MAX storyline "Widowmaker". As seen in the earlier storyline "Welcome Back, Frank", actually shooting the Punisher sometimes just makes him even angrier.
  • In the Mickey Mouse comic Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot, Mickey is frequently captured by a masked villain named The Phantom Blot. The Phantom Blot tries to dispose of him with various complicated death traps, which Mickey always manages to escape from. When the Phantom Blot is finally captured, Mickey asks him why the Phantom Blot didn't just kill him instead of using the death traps. The Phantom Blot than reveals he cannot stand to watch somebody die, and therefore used the death traps so he wouldn't be around when Mickey died.
  • Deadshot's proposed solution to pretty much every Suicide Squad mission. Even when it isn't an assassination. The Wall usually relegates it to "plan B".
  • Doctor Strange's foe Dormammu could obliterate Strange without breaking a sweat, but he inevitably stalls and prolongs the moment (or lets Strange manipulate him into fighting 'fair'). Dormammu's wiser sister Umar is usually the one to point out that this strategy isn't the best.
  • There were plans for the X-Men crossover Fatal Attractions to include a major battle between Wolverine and Magneto. Peter David jokingly commented, "Adamantium's metal, right? If I were Magneto, I'd just rip Wolverine's skeleton out and be done with him" - which the writers and editors promptly decided to have him do. David later said that offhand comment was the biggest influence he'd ever had on the X-Men.
  • In Last Son, Superman, asking Lex Luthor for help, puts himself in such a perfect position to be killed that he asks Luthor why he hasn't done it yet. Luthor responds that he doesn't want to make a martyr of him right now and would like to prove that Superman is a danger to humanity first.
  • The Question: Charlie's final epiphany about how to deal with the insurmountable Wretched Hive that is Hub City: Give up on it and leave.
  • From Tank Vixens, when Üdda muses about her need for combat from her heavily-armed, orbital battle cruiser:
    Mook: Herr General—V'y not ch'ust nuke der liddle foxies out from orbit? You know, a liddle missile here, a liddle napalm dere? V'e cook 'em up real good for ya!
    Üdda: ...V'ell how are ve gonna haff der nifty tank battles und bloodshed if you chust bomb everyt'ink!?!
  • Subverted in the JLA story New Year's Evil: Prometheus has rendered Green Lantern helpless and muses that he could just shoot him if he chose to—then proceeds to do just that. (GL survives.)
  • Used in a Richie Rich story where Richie's friend, kid comedian Jackie Jokers, has realised that the "president" of the United States is a fake, but then he and Richie are kidnapped before they can expose the fake. It's all part of a plot to blow up Washington DC with a stolen atomic bomb, then blame the attack on an obvious Captain Ersatz of the Soviet Union and have both countries destroy each other, leaving the plotters' country as the most powerful in the world. But instead of simply shooting the boys once the plotters have them helpless, they leave them tied up right next to the ticking atomic bomb and of course, the boys escape and manage to find a way to stop the bomb.
  • In the MAD parody of Double Jeopardy, the main character briefly considers using the fact that her husband, whom she was framed for murdering, is, in fact, alive against him to secure her exoneration and ensure he gets his just desserts, but instead is talked into doing what she did in the movie- killing him under the belief that she can't be tried for his murder again.
  • During the overly Anvilicious Batman story The Seduction of the Gun Tim Drake is incredibly annoyed to learn that the high school he's infiltrated, where supposedly over 95% of the school population brings a gun to school, only turns on the metal detectors at the doors on Wednesday mornings. Despite the fact that figuring out what's wrong with the school board and having the metal detectors actually used would have solved most of the plot this is never brought up again.
  • The Ultimates
    • How can the Ultimates prevent a huge PR debacle after the Hulk incident? Simple: just conceal that Hulk is Bruce Banner, and people will love them.
    • Fury and Banner spent six months trying to recruit Thor, and they never thought about inviting him for dinner.
  • In one issue of Sensational Spider-Man, Spidey has been captured by the Looter, who explains how he’s going to sell all the priceless things he’s stolen in order to buy a special meteorite with the profits. Spidey then asks why the Looter, a master thief, didn’t just steal the meteorite itself. After a pause, the Looter admits that the thought just never occurred to him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Inverted in Dick Tracy when Flattop has abducted Tracy and intends to kill him. His henchmen suggest that he allow them to simply slash Tracy's throat because it would be quieter while being just as effective. However, Flattop overrules them because he prefers to shoot his targets. That proves to be a big mistake when Flattop prepares to do that on a count of three. Tracy lunges toward the killer to seize his gun and a wild battle ensues, where Tracy is able to defeat all the crooks at once, even as his comrades in the force are storming the hideout.
  • Sherman's Lagoon: This strip has Hawthorne and Sherman asking Kahuna to turn them into a dog and a human respectively so that they can win $1,000 in a dog show. Kahuna's response is "Why not just ask Kahuna for $1,000?"
    Hawthorne: This way seems less complicated.
  • Happens in this Pearls Before Swine comic, where Pig comes up with an elaborate plan on what to do if he gets separated from his young companion at an amusement park, including discussing what he'll be wearing and where they should meet. The kid promptly pulls out his cell phone and suggests "...or I could just call you."
  • A winter-themed Peanuts Sunday strip from the '60s has Charlie Brown worrying about Snoopy getting cold at night, telling Linus and Lucy he's tried giving him blankets, giving him straw, etc. Linus then suggests that Snoopy try sleeping inside his doghouse instead of on top of it. The others look at him like he's got rocks in his head, leading to Linus admitting in the final panel that "it was sort of a ridiculous suggestion".
  • Calvin and Hobbes
    • Calvin is worried over Rosalyn coming over to babysit again, and unsure of how to handle it. Hobbes suggests that maybe they could try being good for a change. Calvin incredulously asks him to repeat that. Hobbes just says, "Nothing. Forget it."
    • In another comic, Calvin is plotting out an elaborate plan to hit Susie, who is playing with her doll, with water balloons. Hobbes suggests that they just ambush her while she's sitting, to which Calvin says Hobbes lacks "an executive mind".

    Fan Works 
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: At one point, Felucia points out to Dark that he could solve a lot of problems if he simply stood up to Arial and told her how he feels instead of just sitting back and doing nothing while Mizore jumps through hoops and endures all manner of mistreatment to earn Arial's approval. Sadly, Dark can't bare going against Arial's wishes, even if it costs him a happy life with Mizore.
  • Spoofed in the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series video "Marik's Council of Doom": when Bakura suggests bypassing the whole "challenging Yugi to a children's card game" shtick and just killing him, Marik replies that wouldn't work since 4Kids would simply censor it. The abridged series just does this a lot.
    Joey: What do you people want from me?
    Bandit Keith: Your star chips, dweeb. I have a score to settle with Pegasus, so Zombie-Boy here is going to beat you in a card game!
    Joey: ... Why didn't you just take my star chips while I was unconscious?
    Bandit Keith: Shut the hell up!
  • Legacy of the Rasengan: Naruto: After the Sound/Sand invasion is stopped, the Hyuuga council are discussing what happened during Naruto's match with Neji and trying to discuss ways to deal with him (since his match was basically Naruto demonstrating how to exploit almost every weakness the Byakugan has with his personally created jutsu). The Main branch members are all for killing him. One branch member, however, suggests marrying Naruto into the Hyuuga giving some very good reasons like how it would give the orphan a family, they could order him to never teach anyone his jutsu without their permission and he would have strong children who would bolster the Hyuuga ranks. The poor guy gets killed for it.
  • At one point in Eugenesis someone is amazed to see Optimus Prime alive, and asks if someone "finally" went to Vs'Qs and retrieved his body, which has been there for the last twenty years.
  • Danni California, the author of The Hunger Games fanfic "Thinking Tactically" explained that her story was a meta-version of this trope directed at Suzanne Collins. In "Thinking Tactically," a much less emotionally conflicted Katniss Everdeen begins the games, gets to the bow, escapes pursuit, then doubles back and starts firing arrows from the treeline into the general melee at the Cornucopia. A mere five minutes into the Hunger Games, she's whittled the competition down to herself, Petta, Rue, and Foxface.
  • In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, Lelouch asks xenophobic Nina why her parents don't simply send her to a prestigious school in the homeland away from Numbers.
  • In Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji, Louise is beside herself with worry over the idea of entering a Master/Apprentice Contract with Saito as it would functionally allow him to punish her in any way he wanted for anything he wanted. She's utterly shocked when Saito suggests they simply alter the contract to limit what punishments he can give out and for what reasons.
  • After Harry Potter performs a complex ritual to summon Satan in A Deal With..., Satan informs Harry that he has an 800 number now and Harry could have simply called him.
  • The Stairs Coup in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Quick Fix, Luna's majordomo, felt that Luna needed some stairs leading up to her chambers, in case the Night Court needed to contact her in an emergency. So in order to prove his point, he staged a fake coup, complete with sending orders to Equestria's armies to muster on the borders of half a dozen neighboring nations. Though this does convince Luna to install some stairs, she does not fall to point out that Quick Fix could have just talked to her about it.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when the supporters ask the Eternal Dragon to bring Goku back to life so he can defend Earth from the Saiyans. Shenron offers to just deal with the Saiyans directly, but they insist on having Goku do it. Interestingly, the name of that episode was "Nobody Listens to the Magical Dragon".
  • Sword Art Online Abridged:
    • In Episode 4, Kirito and Silica are looking for the Pneuma Flower to revive Pina before its timer runs out, and Silica gets caught by a plant monster with tentacle-like vines. Rather than rush in hastily, Kirito informs Silica that she already has what she needs to get herself free.
      Silica: The power to believe in myself?
      Kirito: No — a knife! Stab it!!
    • In Episode 10, one half of Kirito's brain is smart enough to realize that Asuna's surprise adoption of Yui is an attempt to scare him into calling off their rather hasty marriage because she doesn't think it's a good idea either, and all they have to do to resolve the situation is talk things out like adults. It's slapped down by the other half of Kirito's brain, which resolves to play along until she blinks first.
    • At the end of the first season, when Kirito and Asuna learn why Kayaba imprisoned ten thousand people inside a lethal video game - he created a glitch that killed players when their avatars died, and claimed I Meant to Do That because he hadn't slept in 500 hours - Asuna asks why he didn't try to blame hackers impersonating him instead of continuing the charade for two years, given he had no motive.
      Kayaba: (chuckles) Yeah, okay, see, Asuna? The problem with that is that it's... an excellent idea that I wish I had thought of two years ago. (long, painful pause) Anyhoo, on that sobering note, I think I'm gonna go scream into that uncaring void for a bit.
  • In For Love of Magic, Harry notes that the Quidditch World Cup could have solved a lot of problems by either letting the muggle landowner in on magic then obliviating him later or finding one they could bribe to take an extended vacation.
  • In I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Harry has to find somewhere to ditch his highly distinctive ship due to the massive bounty on his head. Ahsoka suggests he just leave it where it is: in the middle of space far from any planets or hyperspace lanes. The odds of anyone finding it are functionally zero.
  • The omake Where Blackmail Might or Might Not Happen does this to The Demesne Of The Reluctant Twilight Sparkle. In that fanfic, nobles with old claims to demesnes are dusting them off and taking full advantage of an unfair, outdated law that Celestia was trying to have slide into obscurity (although Luna torpedoed that by giving Twilight Sparkle the titular demesne). In the omake, Celestia immediately abolishes the law, and when the nobles try to rebel, she points out that one of the rights they'll be waiving is the crown's protection. Like from Discord, who has just been given a week off to do whatever he wants. Notable because the author of the original fic acknowledged that the path the omake took was probably the most logical one, but if he were to use it, he'd be left without a story.
  • In Copy Cat several X-Men try to puzzle out how an unconscious newcomer could be the child of four different members of the team until one suggests they're his grandparents rather than the guy somehow having four parents. Granted, both ideas are wrong; Xander used pieces of each X-Man's costumes for Halloween and instinctively teleported to the Xavier Mansion when the spell ended.
  • In Once More with Feeling, after Asuka complains about having to sleep on a futon for the umpteenth time, Shinji suggests she just buy herself a bed, since she now has more than enough money to do so.
  • This Bites!
    • Commander Drake asks why Vice Admiral Jonathan hasn't simply shot Terry and Isaiah, to which Jonathan responds that he can't afford the two million beri fine.
    • Drake later asks why the World Government simply doesn't just sic the Admirals, the most powerful fighting force they have, on the Straw Hats. Jonathan responds that it would hurt the World Government either way. If the Admiral wins, the act would be seen as overkill for having to resort to using an Admiral to beat what should be a weak rookie pirate crew, and therefore implicates the World Government as incompetent. However, on the off-chance that the Straw Hats win, it would convince the Warlords to rebel, bringing both them and the Emperors down on the World Government simultaneously. Jonathan thus argues that it just isn't worth it either way.
  • In Three Badasses In Westeros, Lysa Arryn has kidnapped Catelyn Stark and Tyrion Lannister (who had been taken there by Catelyn like in the books) as revenge for Littlefinger's death. Tywin Lannister and Eddard Stark are all for sending their armies to the Eyrie. Robert Baratheon points out that it would be far easier and cheaper to send some of their men to sneak in and get the two out without calling undue attention.
  • In A Man of Iron, the royals and nobles want Iron Man arrested for being a vigilante and challenging their authority, but note that his armor seemingly can't be pierced, making defeating him seemingly impossible. Varys suggests figuring out where he lives and attacking him while he's not in the armor.
  • Timmy mentions in The Truth about Prince Charming that after Vicky started making out with him, he could have easily ended her reign of terror in the neighborhood by going to the cops. She was 18 and he was 12, so she'd be imprisoned for molesting a minor. He didn't because he fell in love with her as well, and instead just insisted she stop tormenting his friends.
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia:
    • When Rin finds out Homura can stop time, she asks why Homura doesn't just stop time and kill all the other Servants and Masters right now. Homura shoots the suggestion down. Keeping time frozen for even a few minutes costs a lot of prana, plus if she touches anything, they unfreeze, so she can't attack in this state.
    • Homura offers Rin a gun and suggests Rin shoot the opposing Masters while Homura keeps their Servants busy. Rin declines, saying battles between magi should be decided with only magic.
  • In the Worm x Dishonored crossover fanfic, A Change of Pace, Vicky's second-trigger stops her from getting close to people or she'll basically render them into brain-dead worshippers, so she hasn't talked to her sister or aunt. Taylor hands her a cell-phone, leaving her to lampshade this. Though in her defense she was grieving and didn't have time to really think about it.
  • A sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has the Orange League Champion Drake worried because his challengers are growing dangerously close to beating him, and he promised his Dragonite that they would never be defeated. A couple of times he's suggested that he should just retire undefeated, but he's not interested in doing that.
  • In the Fanfic Dark Heart High, a shojo-style parody of evil overlords that deliberately seeks out tropes to adopt and cherish, a class for aspiring supervillains is asked what they'd do when they had their nemesis at their mercy. After listening to the litany of death traps and tortures of her classmates' answers, protagonist Yuki fumbles for a moment, then shrugs and says, "I'd just shoot him." Her teacher is quite impressed.
  • In The Boy Behind The Mask, Nina grows tired of Katja and Hiccup arguing on which of their dragons is faster, so she tells them to race to settle the argument. They both awkwardly admit that they didn't think of that.
  • In A Bird in Morning, Superman advises Bruce Wayne to be truthful about Jason Todd's resurrection — he has no hand in it and doesn't know how it was possible. This limits the odds of contradiction since trying to pretend the kid never died would mean complications with the cover-up. Okay, people generally stay dead when they are killed, but this is Gotham, who's going to care?
  • This page has Blofeld defending himself for doing just that.
  • Resident Evil Abridged: Wesker lures his team out to the Spencer Mansion so he can kill them off to cover up his involvement with Umbrella. Yet, when the group is being pursued by the pack of zombified Dobermans at the beginning, he saves Chris, who eventually becomes his nemesis. So when Wesker finally reveals himself to be a traitor to S.T.A.R.S. and his motive, Chris asks a simple question:
  • In the Alternate Tail Series, both Gajeel and Mira both point out that the map Clan Garten is after is useless without all four pieces, and that hiding the piece they currently possess would ultimately stop their plan. However, because the mission of awakening Brigid was passed to her by her Grandfather, Levy feels obligated to gathering the pieces and unite them.
  • In Harry Potter and the Lack of Lamb Sauce, Arjuna, a Hindu girl in the Magic Chef competition at Hogwarts, cheats to avoid cooking beef as this would violate her religion, given the cow's sacred role in it; Ramsey is furious and asks why she didn't just tell him this as he would have been willing to rearrange the ingredients to accommodate her. She is disqualified and her reputation tanks badly.
  • Wizard Runemaster 2:
    • Anduin Wrynn suggests that his father simply pay the Stonemason's Guild their fee for rebuilding Stormwind as not only is it likely cheaper than hiring enough mercenaries to wipe out the Defias Brotherhoodnote , but it would allow them to retain the guild's expertise as well. Varian brushes off the suggestion, claiming he "refused to look weak in front of those who rebel against him".
    • Bolvar Fordragon advises against trying to station a garrison at the base of the Dark Portal, citing that between Netherwind Keep on one side of the portal and Honor Hold on the other, such a garrison would be largely a waste and they should instead focus on reinforcing those two positions.
  • After hearing of Jaune's alleged prowess and cunning in Professor Arc, Salem suggests she not even bother fighting him and simply wait a century or so until he's died of old age. Naturally, her minions are all horrified by the idea as none of them are immortal like her and they're all significantly older than Jaune.
  • Justified in The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1, due to the backwards nature of Bizarro and his race. White Lightning points out that Blue Kryptonite only affects Bizarro Supermen, so the rest of them can take care of the Blue-Kryptonite Men. Bizarro notes that's their most efficient plan, hence it must be used as a last resort. Later, when Bizarro Lois points out her duplicates can fight the B-K Men with no risk, Bizarro states her idea is really smart so he’ll put it at the very bottom of the pile.
  • During the "Mr. Pigeon" arc of Scarlet Lady, Chloe berates Sabrina for not sneaking up to snap a photo of Marinette's sketchbook. Sabrina repeatedly tries to interject, but Chloe won't let her get anything out, and finally goes to take the picture herself. While she's distracted, Sabrina notes that it would be much easier to just pick up one of her rival's discarded designs, as she's torn them out of her sketchbook and tossed them aside rather thoughtlessly, but Chloe just won't hear it.
    Sabrina: [poking at one of the wadded-up papers] "You could just use one of these... Marinette should protect her ideas better."
  • In Son of the Sannin, during a visit to Konoha's hotsprings, Kiba, Tamaki and Shino discuss how they can get to see Kakashi's face under his mask. Fu of all people does it for them... by politely asking him to take his mask off so they can see his face. Kakashi then says many people have tried to set traps and ambushes just to see his face, but nobody bothered to just ask him.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 8 of the third story, Diplomacy Through Schooling, Twilight, her mother and Celestia are talking about the mystery behind Neighsay's disappearance. Twilight and Celestia both think there's something sinister behind it (and as readers already know, they're right), but Velvet suggests there's a simpler solution - that Neighsay skipped town and is using some trinket to mask himself. Celestia admits this is plausible, but she can't help but worry anyway.
  • In She-Ra: In The Wake, Micah recommends that Glimmer use a long-distance communication spell to contact him when she is in space. Her response:
    Glimmer: Or I can just ask Entrapta to call home.
    Micah: That too.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Song of the South, Br'er Bear points out that Br'er Fox's plans to catch Br'er Rabbit never work and suggests that they just "knock his head clean off."
  • Peter Pan. Mr. Smee asks why Captain Hook insists on using a bomb to kill Peter Pan when just slitting his throat would be "more humane". Captain Hook responds that I Gave My Word not to lay a finger — or hook — on Peter. He never breaks a promise.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
    Yzma: I'll turn him into a flea, a harmless little flea. Then, I'll put that flea in a box, and I'll put that box inside another box, and then I'll mail that box to myself. And when it arrives, Muhahaha! I'LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER! [BAM] ...Or, to save on postage, I'll just poison him with this!
  • Aladdin
    • Posing as Prince Ali Ababwa, asks Genie how to win Jasmine's heart. Note that Aladdin had already met the princess as a street rat, and charmed her just fine. Genie's advice with this in mind?
      Genie: Tell. Her. THE TRUTH!!
    • Also applies to the law of Jasmine having to marry a prince. Only by the end of the film does it dawn on the Sultan that he has the power to change the law to allow Jasmine to marry whoever she likes. Which was, admittedly, about thirty seconds after he found out that was the actual issue instead of her suitors just not interesting her.
    • The Genie's rules defy this. Killing Jafar, reviving Aladdin's mother, or making Jasmine fall in love with Aladdin all would have ended the film early. Of course, as Jafar learns, this cuts both ways: He is unable to wish Aladdin dead or make Jasmine fall in love with him either.
    • The sequel, The Return of Jafar, even has a bit of this. Jafar, now a genie himself, can't kill Aladdin because of the same rules. But, as Jafar quickly rationalizes, even though a genie can't kill someone directly, he can just get someone else to do it for him. And if all else fails? Just summon a lava pit. Hey, it's not like you would technically be the one killing him.
  • Inverted in BIONICLE 3: Sidorak wants to drop the Toa, who are held captive in cocoons, from atop the Coliseum, but his viceroy Roodaka convinces him to make the event more "legendary", so they wait until the Toa are mutated and disfigured by the cocoons' venom and then let them drop, by which time the Rahaga have arrived to save them mid-fall. Explained in the books as Roodaka wanting their last moments to be realizing how utterly they had failed in their goal to rescue the Matoran and as a bit of karmic vengeance for their imprisonment of Makuta Teridax.
  • Zootopia: Nick and Judy find a train car full of vital evidence. Nick suggests taking a small briefcase containing relevant evidence and leaving before the bad guys realize they're there. Unfortunately, Judy impulsively wants all of the evidence delivered to the police. So she hijacks the train car. And crashes it, destroying all of the evidence. Fortunately for her, Nick still has the briefcase on him.
  • Sleeping Beauty: King Stefan's initial plan to save his daughter's life from the curse Maleficent placed on her? Have all the spinning wheels in the kingdom burned! If there are no spinning wheels, then she can't fatally prick herself on her sixteenth birthday, can she? Unfortunately, Maleficent, being an evil fairy with magical powers, just counters with a simple solution of her own: just conjure one into existence.
  • Isle of Dogs: Chief's pack and a rival dog pack are ready to fight over a sack full of leftovers when Rex pipes up and says that they should open the sack and see if it's worth the trouble. They do just that, and Rex lists all that's in the sack before Chief finally declares, "Okay, it's Worth It", and they all start fighting anyway.
  • In Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, when Zim teleports the Earth in the Irken Fleet's path so that the Tallest will have to meet him (and inadvertently creating the Florpus, a multidimensional, planet-destroying tear in reality, in doing so), the two Tallest are horrified of the idea of encountering Zim again (far more so than colliding with the Florpus), but when one of the pilots states they can simply turn out of the way, they just moan and groan like children.
    Purple: Earth? That means Zim! This is the worst news I've ever heard!
    Irken Pilot: Sirs, we still have quite a bit of time to change course.
    Red: But we're going straight!
    Purple: Yeah, turning's no fun! Why is this happening? Make it not happen!
    (Both Tallest groan very loudly)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers: Scott Evil expresses his impatience with the means his father, Dr. Evil, uses to attempt to dispose of Austin Powers:
    Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
    (guard starts dipping mechanism)
    Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
    Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
    Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
    Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!
    Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.
  • Used in Puma Man; the Big Bad uses Mind Control to make the hero jump to his death, instead of going with his mooks more practical suggestion of just having one of them shoot him, to make it look like death from natural causes. Which would have all been great had it not been for the fact that Vadhino tells us at one point that thanks to the mask, Kobras has total control over the police. So... why did it have to look like an accident again?
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku puts the heroes into an arena, to be killed by large monsters. This, of course, doesn't work, and Viceroy Gunray demands their execution by shooting. Dooku actually listens, but The Cavalry arrives before anything can be done about it.
  • In Ip Man, Colonel Sato crosses the Moral Event Horizon for shooting Master Liu after his three-on-one fight goes awry and afterward keeps asking to Just Shoot the title hero, but keeps getting prevented from doing so by the more honourable General Miura.
  • Justified in Six String Samurai, where the USSR have occupied a post-nuclear America for decades.
    "Why don't he just shoot him?"
    "We haven't had bullets since '57!"
  • Batman Forever:
    • Inverted on both sides of the ledger: Riddler talks Two-Face out of just shooting Batman by claiming that taking out a cultural hero will leave him with a guilt trip, so it's better to make him die after mental and physical suffering since no-one mourns a pathetic shell of a man. Meanwhile, Batman talks Robin out of wanting to kill Two-Face by warning him that it won't make his anger go away. Two-Face ends up conveniently falling to his death later on anyway.
    • There's also the scene where Two-Face fails at immolating Batman and decides to simply shoot him with a rather large gun. It would have worked if 1) Two-Face had not missed with the first shot and 2) Dick Grayson hadn't been there to rescue Batman from the resulting rubble.
    Two-Face: No more riddles, no more curtains one and two! Just plain curtains!
  • In The Boys from Brazil, Josef Mengele insists that the Nazi conspirators should just kill nosy busybody investigator Ezra Lieberman. Mengele claims that no-one would pay attention to Lieberman's "paltry shreds of evidence", to which his superior replies, "If he dies suddenly, they would." Later, Mengele fails to take his own advice, giving the hero a Motive Rant instead of a bullet. He doesn't die — Ezra is a Failure Hero — but he winds up losing his only advantage in the climax.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, ever-practical Jacopo asks this question of Edmond Dantes in response to hearing his plan to slowly destroy his enemies. Dantes declines, insisting that his enemies must suffer as he has suffered.
    Jacopo: Why not just kill them? I'll do it! I'll run up to Paris — bam, bam, bam, bam — I'm back before week's end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?
  • In Disney's Return to Oz Mombi asks why the Nome King did not turn Dorothy and company into ornaments right away, and instead let them play a near impossible guessing game to get their missing companions back... The Nome King replies that it's more fun. The same excuse is used in the book Ozma of Oz, but in that case, the only reason everyone was found in the guessing game was that Billina eavesdropped.
  • In Fargo when Jerry is explaining his complex plot to get his own wife kidnapped and get the ransom money, Grimsrund and Showalter point out that he could just ask his father-in-law for the money. The film ultimately reveals that the scheme is actually for much more money than Grimsrund and Showalter thought, and Jerry would not have even been able to borrow that much from his father-in-law.
  • In 28 Days Later, Private Jones implores Corporal Mitchell to shoot Sergeant Farrell rather than stab him with the bayonet. Mitchell's refusal to do so ultimately leads to Jim's escape, as it panics Jones into triggering his gun.
  • Used in Last Action Hero. After Practice handcuffs Jack and Danny, he goes into a long speech about why he's working for Vivaldi. Meanwhile, Danny frees himself with a handcuff key he happened to have, pulls a gun on Practice, and rants at length about how dumb movie villains always explain everything when all they have to do to win is shoot. At which point Vivaldi shows up and pulls a gun on him mid-speech. "You're not so smart yourself, kid."
  • Blue Thunder features a non-shooting variant that otherwise plays this trope perfectly. The good guys have recorded on special videotape a conversation that exposes the Government Conspiracy. The bad guys go crazy chasing down the tape in an attempt to retrieve it before it can be given to the press. At the very last second, one of the conspirators reminds the others that the tapes are contained in special cases that are able to erase them by remote command (a fact that was introduced earlier). In a subversion, they try to do exactly this, but the case got knocked off in a scuffle with a mook and so the command fails. In their defense, the heroes had changed the code number on the tapecase in question. The Simple Solution ("So erase them ALL.") wasn't Stated until near the end of the movie. Erasing all the tapes is obviously problematical and a very last resort.
  • In Enter the Dragon, Lee brings this very point up to the man recruiting him to infiltrate Han's Island only for a hasty explanation that Hand would never allow a gun to ever be brought to his home. Lee visibly rolls his eyes at this. This is because even though Bruce Lee was a martial arts master without equal at the time, he had absolutely no illusions on the firearms vs. martial arts debate and, playing a (sort of) secret agent in this movie, very much wanted to use one. But the producers nixed this idea, much to Bruce's annoyance.
  • In The Karate Kid Part II, Miyagi has the Goons' leader in a position to kill him; he instead stops his hand less than an inch from his face and squeezes his nose while making a honking noise. Daniel asks him why he didn't kill him, and Miyagi says he didn't need to. Later in the movie, Daniel does the same thing to the Japanese Goons' leader.
  • In The Phantom, when Kit and Diana find the jade Skull of Touganda at the Museum of World History, Diana suggests contacting an acquaintance of hers to have the skull retrieved. Kit, however, simply smashes the glass surrounding the skull and grabs it.
  • In Total Recall (1990) The Dragon attempts to kill Quaid several times, but is stopped by the Big Bad, on the grounds that Quaid is actually his friend and ally, and is only fighting them because his old memories have been erased. When Quaid escapes from them and becomes a serious threat, the boss reluctantly gives permission to kill him, and his underling replies "It's about goddamn time!"
  • In the kids' film 3 Ninjas, the title middle-schoolers successfully defeat The Dragon, only to have some random mooks pull guns on them. The heroes clearly consider this to be cheating.
  • Lampshaded in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: "If you're gonna shoot, shoot, don't talk!"
  • xXx: State of the Union has Darius Stone knock out instead of kill Charlie, the woman who framed him for murder. His superior, Gibbons, says that he should have killed her. Later on, Stone is held at gunpoint by Charlie, only for Gibbons to shoot her. He reiterates, "I told you to kill that bitch."
  • In Van Helsing, we have the vampire bride Aleera who constantly taunts and plays around with Anna but never gets around to actually killing her. When she finally has her cornered, Anna is thrown a stake by Carl and instantly stakes Aleera on the spot. Telling her (as a Shout-Out to the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) "If you're going to kill someone, kill them! Don't stand there talking about it!"
  • In The Coen Brothers remake of The Ladykillers (2004), the crew's leader tries to think up an elaborate solution to a casino employee who stands in the way of their heist. After being shut down several times, the crew's young idiot chimes in with "why don't we just bribe the guy?"
  • In a 1997 low-budget B-Action flick called Mean Guns a character played by Ice-T is overseeing a deathmatch between a bunch of hired killers for a Briefcase Full of Money. One of the killers surprises Ice with a knife and goes on and on about how he's going to kill Ice T's character and how much he hates him, all the while Ice T keeps telling him to throw the knife. As the guy looks away for a second, Ice T draws his own knife, throws it and kills the guy saying, "See? You throw the fucking knife. Don't stand there and hold it, throw the motherfucker!"
  • In Cinderella (2015), when Ella is asked why she doesn't just leave the Tremaines and move away, she states that she can't because she cares for the house her family has owned for 200 years and doesn't want to see them practically destroy it.
  • In Sling Blade a man who owns a repair shop spends hours trying to figure out why a small engine won't start. His simple-minded assistant, Karl, then points out that it doesn't have any gas.
  • King Cobra (1999): This is brought up when Hashimoto starts unpacking various snake-catching tools and is asked why they don't simply shoot the giant cobra instead. He responds by giving the main character a shotgun and demonstrating how hard it is to actually hit and kill a fast-moving, camouflaged target in a wooded area under pressure.
  • Defied in Major Payne. Rather than cooking up another Zany Scheme to drive Payne away, Cadet Wuliger suggests merely going to the principal, as what Payne is doing to the students as a Drill Sergeant Nasty can't possibly be legal. Cadet Stone shoots this down, believing the principal won't do anything, as he doesn't care if it's legal or not. However, Wuliger's suggestion does inspire Stone's scheme to depict Payne as a pedophile, believing if they paint Payne as something that vile, the principal will have no choice but to fire Payne. Unsurprisingly it doesn't work, as since the Major sleeps with his eyes open he catches them red-handed trying to slip a cross-dressing cadet into bed with him.
  • Similarly defied in Matilda when the students tell the titular girl about The Trunchbull and how she physically and psychologically abuses the students, even going so far as to outright torture them by locking them in an iron-maiden-like device called The Chokey. Matilda points out they should tell their parents and get the woman fired and likely locked up, but the other kids point out they've all tried and their parents simply don't believe them as the stories are so ludicrously and unbelievably over-the-top.
  • Avengers: Endgame:
    • The movie begins with the heroes plotting to steal the Infinity Stones back from Thanos and use them to undo his culling of half the universe. However, it turns out Thanos had anticipated this possibility and destroyed the Stones to prevent anyone from doing so, necessitating the much more complicated "Time Heist" plan of taking the stones from alternate timelines.
    • And speaking of the Time Heist, upon being told that the heroes have access to time travel, Rhodey suggests a much simpler alternate plan.
      Rhodey: If we can do this... you know, go back in time... why don't we just find baby Thanos and... (mimes garroting someone)
      Banner: First off, that's horrible
      Rhodey: It's Thanos.
      Banner: —and second off, time doesn't work that way! Changing the past doesn't change the future!
  • In The Sandlot, Scott Smalls takes his stepfather's baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, not understanding the true significance of it, and it winds up in the nearby junkyard with with a terrifying guard dog dubbed "The Beast". Smalls suggests they go talk to The Beast's owner to have him get the ball back for them. Squints shoots this down, and everyone else agrees. After several elabotate attepts, they get it back and discover that the Beast was a typical bulldog. The first thing the Beast's owner Mr. Mertle says when they tell them they were trying to get it back is to ask why they didn't just ask him. Cue everyone shouting at Squints and hitting him over the head with their baseball caps.

  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort wants to capture Harry because spilling "the blood of an enemy" is required for a ritual that will let him come Back from the Dead. Pettigrew points out that there are a lot of people who consider Voldemort an enemy and suggests kidnapping someone less famous and well-guarded. Voldemort admits that this would be much easier, but insists on using Harry anyway because he wants to come back stronger than he was before.
    • Later in the same book, several of Voldemort's Death Eaters suggest to Voldemort that they should just kill Harry Potter on the spot instead of arming him with a wand and killing him in a mock duel. He doesn't listen because his ego demands proof that he can win against a teenager while his minions don't care. Voldemort wises up in the next book, attempting the Killing Curse the moment he comes face-to-face with Harry. Luckily Dumbledore shows up just in time to save the day.
    • More mundanely, the Half-Blood Prince's textbook in the sixth book has "Just shove a bezoar down their throats" scrawled over an entire section about poison antidotes. Slughorn mentions that some poisons won't be countered this way, but still, the knowledge (as well as the bezoar itself) does prove useful later.
  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom denounces Huck's plan to liberate Jim from captivity by unlocking the shed's door and escaping by night as too simple and lacking flair, substituting it with an incredibly dangerous and over-the-top one instead.
  • Averted in the Fu Manchu novels, where no one ever questions Fu Manchu's use of ridiculously exotic murder plots, probably because, except when targeting the heroes, they usually work.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel:
    • Proof that this always has been and always will be an essential part of the Super Hero formula: In The Elusive Pimpernel, one of Baroness Orczy's sequels to the Super Hero Trope Codifier, while Chauvelin is practically orgasming over his overly-complicated plans to make the Scarlet Pimpernel suffer an intricate Fate Worse than Death, his assigned Number Two Collot d'Herbois suggests they just shoot him.
      "Collot d'Herbois, incredulous, half-contemptuous, did not altogether approve of these schemes, which seemed to him wild and uncanny; he liked the direct simplicity of a summary trial, of the guillotine, or of his own well stage-managed 'Noyades'. He did not feel that any ridicule or dishonour would necessarily paralyse a man in his efforts at intrigue, and would have liked to set Chauvelin's authority aside, to behead the woman upstairs and then to take his chance of capturing the man later on."
    • By the time of Lord Tony's Wife, it's Chauvelin who's advocating quick executions of aristos rather than putting them through elaborate public humiliation. The longer they're alive, he reasons, the more chance the Pimpernel has to rescue them.
  • In the tie-in Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel What I Did on My Summer Vacation, the Big Bad suggests just killing the Slayer's friends. His advisor disagrees, saying that doing so is just suicide. You don't eat the Slayer's loved ones.
  • In an unusual variation, in The Courts of the Morning it's the Diabolical Mastermind who points out the simple solution to the heroes. The heroes capture the Diabolical Mastermind about a third of the way in, as the first step of a complicated scheme that takes the rest of the novel to play out. When he starts to get an idea of what they're planning, he points out that it would be simpler and safer for them just to shoot him now. They reply that getting him out of the way isn't the only thing they're trying to achieve, and because they're the heroes their complicated scheme does end up achieving nearly everything they wanted.
  • In Eragon, the titular character is told by Brom that the reason why magic users don't do this is because the recipient of the attack always has just enough time to get in a similar attack before they croak; thus a kind of unwritten rule between magical duelists is that they have to bend the enemy's mind to their will before the finishing blow.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Eyl finally has Gaunt and Mabbon at his mercy and starts gloating. Mabbon tells Eyl that he should have just fired. By failing to do so, Eyl gets knocked away by Gaunt, then has his head ventilated by Larkin.
  • The Dresden Files:
  • In the first John Carter of Mars novel, Dejah Thoris explains that, while she really loves John Carter, she was forced to promise herself to an enemy prince. Her rules of honor forbid her to be with anyone else while her betrothed is still alive. John responds by drawing his sword and offering to take care of it. Unfortunately, she also can't be with a man who killed her fiancé.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Mike and Psmith, when the title characters are preparing to face some dormitory invaders, Psmith launches into a dissertation on the tactics of Napoleon—which Mike interrupts by suggesting they just trip them up with string.
    Psmith: Yes, Napoleon would have done that, too.
  • Modesty Blaise novels:
    • In A Taste For Death, the second banana villain—who has been defeated by Modesty and Willie before—practically jumps up and down shouting, "Kill them now!" or (later) "They're up to something, kill them now!" But he's overruled by the main villain, whose guiding principle is It Amused Me and doesn't think that just killing them would be amusing enough.
    • Major the Earl St. Maur, in The Night of Morningstar, argues for dropping Modesty and Willie over the side the instant the Watchmen finish determining whether or not our heroes managed to send a message before being captured. (They hadn't.) He is overruled by his superior Colonel Golitsyn, who wishes to keep Modesty and Willie alive for use in an elaborate disinformation plot.
  • In Pact, the way that the metaphysics of the setting work encourage subtlety, manipulation, and elaborate traps to defer responsibility—an approach which is explicitly compared to playing the Bond villain. Those that choose not to care about the consequences of being straightforward, like Fell the illusionist/enchanter, are all the more dangerous because of this—it often doesn't matter if your opponent will take severe karmic backlash for their vulgar attack if said vulgar attack managed to kill you.
    Fell: Don't underestimate the value of a bullet.
  • Captain Underpants: In the fourth book, Professor Poopypants is Driven to Madness over people constantly making fun of his name and uses Shrink Rays and Humongous Mecha to hold the world hostage, threatening to shrink everyone in the world unless they change their names to ones just as silly as his. When Captain Underpants defeats him and he's being taken away by the police, George and Harold point out that he could have simply changed his own name instead, to which the Professor confesses that such a solution had never occurred to him. Sadly, the name he chooses to change to, Tippy Tinkletrousers, is just as unfortunate.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: "Harold" is about two farmhands named Thomas and Alfred who make a scarecrow that they either play around with or abuse. But when the scarecrow starts coming to life and grunting, they get scared. Thomas gets an idea on how to get rid of it.
    Thomas: Let's throw him in the fire, and that'll be that.
    Alfred: Let's not do anything stupid.
  • Fate/strange fake: At one point, Gilgamesh suggests to his Master Tine Chelc that rather than waste time searching for and fighting the other Servants, they could win the Holy Grail War if he blows up the entire city with Ea since all the other Servants and Masters should be somewhere within. Tine balks at the suggestion, not wanting to sacrifice the townspeople. Gilgamesh shrugs and says he just wanted to see how she would react.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Highprince Dalinar Kholin is plagued by recurring visions of the era of the long-lost Knights Radiant. Unsure whether he is losing his mind or receiving genuinely supernatural visions, he's on the verge of abdicating when his younger son points out that they could simply research the visions to see if the places and people Dalinar is seeing actually existed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Pretty much happens in every episode of Eureka. The super-scientists will cause a problem and go through various complex methods to try and solve it. It's Carter (the one-non genius in the town) who comes up with the solution that's so simple that it never occurs to the geniuses and saves the day.
  • In Smallville, when Clark is talking to Oliver about dealing with Doomsday and saying he is going to the Fortress to find a way of sending it away, Oliver does this.
    Oliver: I can tell you how to conquer the beast. Kick his ass, Clark.
  • On The X-Files, when the Syndicate discusses killing Mulder to keep him from thwarting their plans. Several of the members argue against this, pointing out that such an action would just make Mulder a martyr and draw unnecessary attention to Mulder's investigations into the X-Files. By leaving him alive and not doing anything, they just make Mulder look like a paranoid Cloudcuckoolander who no one outside of UFO circles will take seriously.
  • Angel:
    • In "War Zone," Gunn locks Angel in a meat locker, and Angel takes pains to try to break himself out. Wesley and Cordelia show up and just open the door from the outside, asking why he didn't just call for help on his cell phone.
    • Wolfram & Hart usually send demons and assassins after Angel and go through grandiose Evil Plans. In "Carpe Noctem," Gavin Park points out that they can easily put Angel and his crew out of business by simply informing the government of Angel's ID issues; of course, soon after he points this out, Lilah Morgan gives Angel all the documents he needs just to spite him.
      Gavin: The guy has no social security number, no tax payer ID, no last name as far as I know. How can he go down to the building department, or anywhere else in officialdom for that matter? He's the rat and we're the maze.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Warren Mears, after once again having his plans thwarted, finally tries this by bringing a gun and shooting Buffy. It backfires when Buffy survives, and his parting shots cause arguably the show's most shocking case of Anyone Can Die and lead directly and promptly to his very painful death by flaying courtesy of Willow.
      Vampire: (at Willy's bar, watching a news report about Buffy surviving being shot, to Warren) Yeah. I was gonna eat you myself during the commercial, but now I think it'll be more fun to let the Slayer de-gut you. Might wanna get a head start, my friend. 'Cause this girl is gonna be coming for you, big time.
    • The Judge is said to be a demon so strong that "no weapon forged" can harm him. Buffy points out that what constitutes a "weapon forged" has changed a lot in six hundred years. To prove her point, Buffy shoots the Judge once. With a rocket launcher. No more Judge.
    • Buffy tries to use her temporary mind-reading powers to get an answer out of Angel without him noticing, only to realize that it doesn't work on vampires:
      Angel: You don't have to play games with me, Buffy. Ever.
      Buffy: Well, you're not exactly Joe-here's-what-I'm-thinking.
      Angel: So ask me.
      Buffy: Oh, but that would have made sense...
    • Angelus insists on using his mind games on Buffy, while Spike insists that he finish her off before she gets really mad and kills them all. Guess what? He's right... after what Angelus did to upset Giles, not only did they have to contend with a very pissed-off Slayer, but she was hot on the heels of her Watcher, who was whaling on Angelus with a flaming baseball bat after throwing a molotov cocktail into the factory.
      Spike: Why don't you rip her lungs out? It might make an impression.
      Angelus: Lacks... poetry.
      Spike: Doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael could have dealt with any number of cases by shooting the villain of the week, a fact that Fiona never hesitates to point out. Justified, here: depending on the circumstances, Michael will make the point that either they don't want a trail of bodies leading back to them or that if they do things his way they can take a whole gang down. In Michael's words (from the first episode):
      Michael: I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid; better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
    • Also, when Michael goes undercover one or more of the crook's other associates will often wonder why they don't just shoot Michael when he's pretty clearly lying to them or making unhelpful suggestions that are likely to get them caught and/or killed. Semi-justified here, in that Michael is very good at engineering situations to prevent the decision-making crooks from actually pulling the trigger (most often by making his lies just plausible enough to make him seem useful—and hey, he's a trained spy: the government spent thousands if not millions teaching him how to do just this).
    • Later, when Michael does start to use bullets instead of more complicated solutions, things start to go hairy for him fast, such as when he straight up murders his former mentor, who is unarmed at this point and is in his own CIA office.
  • Played straight in Dark Angel when Lydecker is pointing a gun at a sleeping Max and decides to talk instead of shoot, giving her the opportunity to jump up and roundhouse kick him in the face. However, this is justified by a) Max being an expensive asset; and b) Lydecker regarding the X-5s as his children, and not being fond of the idea of them getting hurt.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Justified in the episode "Planet of the Ood" when business owner Mr. Halpert declined to shoot the Doctor and Donna, saying that there will likely be a full investigation and their bodies will likely be found. If he did shoot them, it would create many problems for him legally in the future; but by leaving them to the Ood, they'll die just like all the other people around and there's no trouble beyond what's already happened.
    • In "Day of the Doctor" the 10th, 11th, and War Doctors programmed their sonic screwdrivers to dissolve the wooden door of their cell in the Tower of London. As they are about to so, Clara opens the unlocked door.
      Clara: Three of you in one cell, and none of you thought to try the door?
  • In the Drake & Josh episode "Number One Fan", Josh takes the Campfire Kids to the movie theater to learn about wilderness navigation. He asks the kids a hypothetical question about them getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere with only a compass and a topographic map as guides, but Megan insists that she could simply call her mother on her cellphone.
  • In the CS Centrl Gag Sub of Hikari Sentai Maskman, Okelampa, the guy who shows up solely to resurrect the monsters as giants when they get shot by the Maskman asks “Why don’t the Maskman shoot me first?”
  • Stargate-verse
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • In the first-season episode "The Serpent's Lair", the team is standing at the top of a long shaft, looking down at their target, the ship's shield generator. Bra'tac details a plan for them to fight their way through a series of corridors to reach the bottom of the shaft, at which point, they'll disable the generator. O'Neill doesn't actually say anything, he just removes a couple of grenades from his equipment, pulls the pins, and drops them down the shaft. It should be noted this is the moment where Bra'tac starts seeing the Tau'ri as warriors worthy of respect.
      • In the episode "Wormhole X-Treme!", O'Neill is acting as the military advisor to Martin's TV show, and when the question is brought up of "How can they defeat the giant alien without being weightless?", O'Neill says "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?", and is commended for his innovative thinking. Martin was not impressed.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
    • This is frequently Ronon's job. For example, in one episode McKay's complex plan to stop the Asuran Replicators falls through and he starts panicking, Ronon's response is that they have guns that can kill Replicators... why not just shoot them all?
      Todd: I was going to write a program that would trigger a slow overload in the primary capacitor, but I don't think we have time for that now.
      Ronon: I was just gonna blow it up.
      Todd: Naturally.
    • Used to highlight the incompatibility of Ronon and Keller. When the two are hiding from the Wraith who have taken over their ship, they agree that they need to disable the ship so the Wraith can't get to their destination. Keller muses about how to hack into the security system and disable the various systems one-by-one. Ronon just starts shooting out control panels.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Suspecting that Gowron, supreme leader of the Klingon Empire, is a Changeling infiltrator, General Martok allowed Sisko & co. to expose him — by killing Gowron. Worf attacked Gowron and the two fought; at this point, Martok invoked this trope. Martok's suggestion was quite uncharacteristic (and dishonorable) for a Klingon warrior, tipping Odo to the fact that he, not Gowron, was the real changeling.
    • In another episode, the Defiant is captured in battle by the Dominion. Sisko and crew are kept alive, though, because the Dominion ship has a different mission to perform elsewhere. The Jem'Hadar contingent left in control of the ship is led by the arrogant first of a new batch of clones with a seasoned veteran of an older generation as his second-in-command. The veteran brings this trope up repeatedly to his superior, saying that the value of the crew helping with repairs is surely outweighed by the fact that they're no doubt scheming of a way to take back control of the ship (because he's smart enough to know that's exactly what he would do in their place), but he's ignored. At the end of the episode, Sisko lampshades this, telling the dying veteran "Your leader should have listened to you." The Jem'Hadar is resigned — his purpose, after all, was to serve the Founders' will and they put the new young leader in charge.
  • In the CSI episode "Unshockable", when discussing how a victim was poisoned with Sarin when already knocked out, Sara asks:
  • Invoked in the past tense on Law & Order, when a character asks an investigator why, if the convicted killer's pleas that he'd not intended to commit murder were untrue, he didn't shoot the woman he'd struck with a tire iron. "The noise" is the reply.
  • On Pushing Daisies, the murderers will never use mundane methods to either kill their victims or in their attempts to kill the heroes when they have the heroes captured (which they almost always do). This trope is eventually lampshaded in the episode "Smell of Success":
    Emerson Cod: Death by scratch and sniff. What the hell happened to people shooting each other with guns?
  • In his review of the first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Linkara noted a plot-point that if Rita Repulsa knows the identities of the Rangers, why didn't she just blow up their houses?
  • Subverted in Criminal Minds. Being a show about profiling, if the killer chose a bizarre method of execution, there's probably a reason.
  • Red Dwarf: In addition to said page quote, a similar moment happens in the Back to Earth special. Taking a cue from Blade Runner, Rimmer obtains the phone number of somebody they're looking for using an extremely long-winded and complicated form of Zoom and Enhance on a photograph, by bouncing off the reflections of various objects in the picture (and some that aren't) until they get the man's number on the back of his business card by seeing a reverse angle of the original photo. After the whole charade, Kryten bluntly asks:
    Kryten: Sir wouldn't it have been easier to look him up in the phone book?
  • ** "Or we could use the teleporter."
  • Subverted in the Horrible Histories about World War II German prisoner-of-war camps, and Allied prisoners continually escaping from them (forcing German troops to be tied up guarding prisoners instead of fighting the war):
    Commandant Klinsman: You give me one good reason why I shouldn't just shoot you right here on the spot.
    Squadron Leader Higgins: Because it's against the Geneva Convention to shoot officers.
    Klinsman: Yes, forgot about that.
  • Displayed in Major Crimes: Captain Sharon Raydor is attempting to get psychiatrist Dr. Joe to break confidentiality on his sessions with her foster son, first as the police officer in charge of his safety note , then as his legal guardian. Dr. Joe politely shoots her down on both counts, lays out the legal requirements for breaking confidentiality and suggests an alternative: Just talk to her foster son.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Deadly Silents", Karl's partner Neil keeps urging to just shoot Mac and Pinky and dump their bodies somewhere. After multiple attempts to Make It Look Like an Accident fail, Karl gives in and agrees to just shoot them. It fails.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • "Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit", a mismatched pair of superheroes who fight crime. In each sketch, BMX Bandit would draw up a complicated strategy involving his BMX tricks, only for Angel Summoner to point out it's easier to just summon some angels to do everything for them. Subverted in the final installment, when it's BMX Bandit suggesting some angel-summoning, rather than risk his life trying to perform an impossible jump and fight a group of terrorists, but Angel Summoner refuses to because of a previous agreement. Then it turns out he summoned some angels anyway.
    • One sketch revolves around a medieval king constantly giving jobs to his Camp Gay underling / crush Lucentio, much to the aggravation of his lords, since Lucentio is pretty useless. Eventually, one of the lords approaches the king and asks why he doesn't just have sex with Lucentio, rather than giving him important jobs and titles. So he does.
  • In The Blacklist an eco-terrorist is flying a helicopter to cause a nuclear accident. Aram uses his hacking skills to get into the helicopter's computer and talks of how he can use a special program to undo the air balance of the copter and drive it off course. Director Ressler angrily asks "can't you just shut down the rotor? Shut the damn thing down?" Adar pauses and realizes he can do that to ground the copter.
  • In Kamen Rider Build, protagonist Sento's Transformation Belt runs off of "Full Bottles" which contain the essence of animals, machines, etc. He tries to identify Best Matches (pairs with high compatibility) because they're more powerful and does so with a testing device built into the wall of his Elaborate Underground Base. After being told all this, Dumb Muscle Ryuga tries it out and the very first pair of Bottles he tests turns out to be a Best Match, to Sento's amazement. Ryuga explains that his logic was "living creature plus inanimate object", something that Sento had dismissed as too obvious in spite of the fact that the Best Matches he had already discovered followed this patternnote .
  • In Inhumans, Karnak needs to suture Jen's wound to prevent her bleeding out. He starts striping a palm frond to use as a makeshift solution. Jen suggests just using her travel sewing kit she keeps on her. Clothes tend to catch and rip on the trees.
  • Once combined with Dumbass Has a Point in Gilligan's Island. It's been discovered that the Howells' marriage was not legally binding (the officiant being a fraud), which causes friction between them that is driving the other castaways batty. Gilligan says he has a solution, and the Skipper, fed up with Gilligan's Zany Schemes doesn't want to hear it... when Gilligan's solution is to merely have the Skipper, who is considered to have the authority to officiate a wedding when on a craft in water, perform a simple ceremony while standing on a raft in the lagoon. Skipper seems flabbergasted and agrees.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Legends of Tomorrow:
      • In Season 1, Vandal Savage prevents Kendra from killing him by revealing that he has her boyfriend, Carter, brainwashed. Savage is the only one who can free him, so Kendra has to let him live and try to force him to free Carter. Rory points out (and Sarah and Snart agree) that Carter reincarnates; even if there is no way to save this particular incarnation, they have a timeship and can just find a sane one somewhere else. To make it worse, Carter eventually breaks free of the brainwashing on his own, meaning Savage's threat that Carter would be brainwashed forever without him wasn't even true.
      • In Season 2, the Big Bad Eobard Thawne never really tries to actually kill the Legends, despite being able to do it in the space of a second, frequently coming up with other means to deal with them. On the other hand, he's always on the run from the Black Flash. His partners Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn keep invoking this trope, but he ignores them. He finally takes the gloves off in the season finale, ripping Ray's heart out (luckily, there's another version of Ray.) Off that, Thawne is constantly running from the Black Flash who can detect him by his speed. When he finally tells this to Darhk and Merlyn, they suggest a very easy answer: Stop running.
      • Likewise with Thawne, when he and the Legion rewrite the world to their own liking, they leave the Legends alive to suffer in various ways. Thawne is greatly annoyed when the Legends end up being a problem after all.
        Thawne: I should have wiped you from existence when I had the chance. Do you have any idea how infuriating it is to know that Merlyn was right?
    • On The Flash, the team are trying to find a country music star who is being hunted by an enemy. They try to figure out ways to track her using their various powers and such but come up short. New teammate Ralph then asks if any of them have checked her website.
  • Played for laughs in El Chavo del ocho. The kids were playing orchestra but they simply sounded horrible. La Chilindra, who was the "coductor", complained that they couldn't play alright, and el Chavo suggested an idea, that instead of playing whatever they were, all of them play the same song.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the binding of Fenrir of Norse Mythology, Loki asks the other Gods why they don't just kill him while he's bound, especially since it's foretold Fenrir kills Odin come Ragnarok. The other Gods don't kill him because Fenrir was bound in a holy place, which would have become tainted with both the violence and the blood.
  • Alexander the Great is said to have encountered the legendary Gordian Knot, along with a prophecy that whoever managed to loosen and untie it would become the ruler of all of Asia. After studying the knot for a bit, he drew his sword and cut the knot in half, and went on to fulfill the prophecy.

  • Hello Internet: In one episode, Grey laments that try as he might, he can't find a collared shirt with the exact attributes he wants. He's gotten so frustrated about this that he has occasionally, but very seriously, considered starting a small factory just to create the shirts he wants. In the next episode's follow-up, Myke mentions that many fans asked why Grey didn't just go to a tailor. Grey admits that this had never occurred to him, partly because he unconsciously thought of tailors as something from a bygone era.

  • In Darwin's Soldiers: Scrodinger's Prisoners, Dr. Shelton and a soldier have to get through a room with an angry doctor. The soldier suggests this as an option. Turns out that's pretty much what they do.
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, a group of students try to leave the school and discover that the front doors and windows are locked. They start to panic, with one of them picking up a guitar to smash one of the windows. Cue one of the students asking why they don't just try the emergency exit, or ask one of the teachers what's up.

    Urban Legends 
  • There is an anecdote about monks arguing over how many teeth are in a horse's mouth. One naive young man suggests finding an actual horse and counting the teeth, but is shouted down because the monks believe scientific questions are properly answered by consulting old authorities, not by empirical methods. The anecdote, which serves to ridicule the medieval "scholasticist" approach to science, is of dubious truth value and may be no older than the 20th century.
  • There's an urban legend that goes as follows: When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 degrees Celsius. The Russians used a pencil. However, this isn't at all true, as both Russia and the US knew beforehand that pens wouldn't work in space and instead used pencils. When pencils proved to be hazardous in space due to graphite dust and debris, the US switched to felt pens while Russia switched to grease pencils on plastic tablets. Eventually a private entrepreneur independently developed the space pen with $1 million of his own funds, and sold them to NASA and Russia for $3 each.
  • A crew transporting a house had difficulties with an overpass that their payload was 3 and a half inches too tall to fit under. They were standing there, scratching their heads, debating how to find an alternate route, when a kid on a bicycle who was doing his morning newspaper route asked what was up, he said, "Why not just let some air out of the tires and then re-inflate them after you've passed under the bridge?" A few minutes later, the crew were on their way again. This is in fact an extremely common solution to the problem with the proviso that unless you're very close to clearing the overpass while your tires are fully inflated it won't help. Deflate your tires and you'll ruin them by the time you clear the overpass which would cost thousands of dollars to replace to say nothing of if you damage the wheels themselves. Oversize load routing is intricately planned to avoid such eventualities.
  • A joke is told about a driver who gets a flat tire just outside the fence of a mental asylum. Nervous about being stopped in such a place, he quickly starts to change the tire, putting the nuts in the hubcap while he wrestles the spare on. He then accidentally kicks the hubcap and the nuts fly out, disappearing into the tall grass beside the road. Suddenly, he hears a voice: an inmate watching him from just inside the fence tells him to take one nut from each of the other three wheels and use those, and that should serve to hold the spare in place long enough for him to get to a garage and replace them. He says "That's a great idea! What's somebody like you doing in a mental asylum?" The inmate's reply is "I'm in here because I'm crazy, not because I'm stupid."

    Video Games 
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, LeChuck captures Guybrush, ties him and Wally up into an extremely elaborate torture device, and explains his plan to have both of them killed. When Guybrush asks why LeChuck didn't shoot him as soon as he came in, he responds: "Because we had an extra disk."
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
    • Inverted during the fight with Volgin. After the battle stops going his way, Volgin looks up at Ocelot and orders him to shoot Snake. Ocelot replies with, "I'm afraid I can't do that. Fight like a man, Volgin."
    • In the remakes, the achievement for killing Ocelot and creating a time paradox is "Problem Solved, Series Over." Snake Eater is a prequel, and Ocelot is a major Wild Card with a hand in just about every problem in the series.
  • Lampshaded in Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle when Keen is surprised that the Gnostic Elders weren't killed instead of just kidnapped. The council page immediately handwaves this by telling him that the elders are immortal.
  • Inverted in Baldur's Gate II. After having captured you and completed the evil plans he had in store for you, Big Bad Irenicus orders his sister, Psycho for Hire Bodhi, to have you "disposed of" immediately. Bodhi instead exhibits the Bond Villain Stupidity her role is usually set up to lampshade and decides it would be much funnier to have you thrown to the resident Malevolent Architecture in a game of cat and mouse — behind Irenicus's back. The protagonist is even allowed to point out that Irenicus won't be happy if he finds out. Of course, Irenicus could have avoided the mess if he just killed the party himself.
  • Double Switch: At the end of the game, Lyle has Eddie at his mercy, and he asks everyone what should be done with the guy. Brutus says "Just nail him!" However, Lyle ends up activating a trap that sends Eddie flying around a couple of times, and then through a Trap Door, supposedly sending him back to the basement.
  • Portal 2: In the end, GLaDOS states that she's been ignoring the simple solution of how to get rid of Chell: let her go. Killing Chell has proven itself to be very difficult, has caused GLaDOS no end of problems, and Chell's ultimate goal throughout both games has been to leave the testing grounds. So why not just give Chell what she wants and let her go? It's not like a gesture of gratitude or anything.
  • In a side conversation in Persona 2: Innocent Sin, the main characters discuss a few potential "simple solutions" to the current mess and decide they probably won't work; tracking down Joker by summoning him again won't work because he could simply choose not to appear, and trying to take advantage of the fact that rumors are coming true by starting a rumor that Joker is easy to defeat won't work because people wouldn't spread a rumor like that.
  • In Persona 5, after Black Mask reveals their identity as The Mole in the Phantom Thieves, they also go into a Motive Rant. Black Mask, in essence, is willing to ruin their own life in the name of vengeance against their own personal target, even if it means killing the rest of the Thieves, causing mental shutdowns in dozens of innocent people, causing widespread accidents and destruction, and potentially sending all of Japan into chaos. The rest of the Thieves point out that they were already going to cause a change of heart on Black Mask's target; Black Mask could have just kept helping the Thieves in order to get their revenge, and that Black Mask is betraying the Thieves for nothing. However, Black Mask decides that they've gone too far to turn back now, and attacks the Phantom Thieves.
  • In the seventh Touhou, if you play as Marisa, she will wonder about how to get the gate to the Netherworld to open up. The Prismriver Sisters then point out that they only need to fly over it.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • In "Capture the Flag" Gaius Selan and Narrel propose venting plasma onto a Vaadwaur who seems invincible in order to create a vulnerability. Since you're standing in the transporter room at the time your character suggests just beaming him out into space, but Selan says he tried that already.
    • In Dust to Dust it's possible to suggest using transporters to bypass the Kobali temple's security measures in your hunt for Keten/Ensign Kim. Captain Kim remarks that it's a good idea... and then, when trying to set it up, realizes that he can't contact his ship (prompting you to remark that the same seems to be true for you and your ship).
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Batman: Arkham Origins: At the beginning of the game, Alfred points out that, since no one knows Batman's Secret Identity but Alfred and Batman himself, he could just stay inside for the night to avoid the assassins, since Black Mask's bounty is only good for one night. Batman shoots that down, pointing out that the assassins will just endanger innocent people to lure him out anyway.
    • Batman: Arkham City
      • Batman needs to Find the Cure! for the toxin that is slowly killing himself, the Joker, and dozens of citizens in hospitals. He is frequently sidetracked by having to fight mooks and villains. Joker calls him and orders him to stop wasting time fighting them and just kill them. Of course, Batman does not kill and doesn't listen.
      • From an earlier point in Arkham City, Batman contacts Alfred for ways to get into the Joker's hideout in the Steel Mill. Alfred (sarcastically) suggests using the front door, prompting Batman to snark back with "why didn't I think of that?". He then mentions the chimney as a way in but says that it'd be suicide. Batman immediately enters through the chimney.
  • A minor version in World of Warcraft when a paladin gets upset that the caravan he's in keeps making stops instead of continuing to Light's Hope Chapel. Eventually, the senior paladin Argus remarks that they aren't far from the chapel and suggests he simply walk there.
  • In the first Ronin mission in Saints Row 2, the Saints want to rob a casino controlled and guarded by a rival gang. Pierce comes up with an elaborate multi-stage heist plan reminiscent of Ocean's Eleven. Johnny Gat suggests just walking in, murdering all the guards and taking whatever they want. Since the Saints are violent sociopaths and not cunning thieves, The Boss picks Option 2.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour you meet the local DJ Bobby Ricks who asks you to find a key for a boat to escape town. Murphy suggests it'd be a lot easier and safer to just hotwire the boat rather than search the town for a key that may not even exist, but Ricks rebukes him almost immediately: The town wants you to play its game and find the key and it doesn't like "cheating" one bit. Cue anonymous caller dedicating a song to Bobby Ricks himself...
  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • There's a moment when the Scions need to cross a stretch of water, but Urianger can't swim. But it's okay, because thanks to working with a tribe of incredibly dangerous fey, he's devised a spell that should allow him to walk on water. Not only is it pointed out that it would be far easier and less hazardous if he simply learned to swim, but after his spell fails and he has to get pulled back to shore, Y'shtola points out the boat docked just a few feet away.
    • Moments later, upon reaching the island-sized whale Bismarck, Urianger is asked to remove some barnacles that had latched onto Bismarck's body. He hems and haws over it for a bit after telling the others what's required, which causes Alisaie to explode at him in frustration, reminding him that she and the Warrior of Light were both blessed with the ability to breathe underwater, and could simply get it done in less time than he would take thinking of another approach.
  • Undertale: In the True Pacifist ending, Toriel chastises Asgore for waiting until seven humans fell into the underground, instead of crossing the barrier with the first soul he got and collecting the other six from above ground.

    Visual Novels 
  • Oddly enough, Arcueid in Tsukihime asks Nero this — technically, she points out he's been messing around too much by making Shiki suffer, which just triggered his Nanaya side — after Nero decides he's going to have fun and slowly eat Shiki instead of killing him outright. After Shiki starts kicking his ass, he realizes maybe it would have been a better idea not to play with his food.
  • Fate Series:
    • In Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel scenario, True Assassin points out to his master that the easy and pragmatic thing would probably be to have him kill Shirou and Rin, who are running around like headless chickens desperately trying to find a way to defeat the Shadow that's eating half the town. Said master, who is an utter sadist, replies that it's more fun to do nothing, watch them fail, and have the Shadow kill them. This comes back to bite Zouken in the ass when the Shadow, which is Sakura, kills him and True Assassin.
    • In Week 3 of Fate/EXTRA, you and your Servant figure out that the way to escape Caster's identity-erasing Reality Marble is to remember your name after it's erased. When you ask Rin how to do this, she suggests writing it down.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: This is used to solve the Closed Circle mystery of episode 2's First Twilight - how was the killer able to get 6 people inside the chapel when only Maria had the key and Rosa is absolutely sure that the door to the chapel was locked? Simple - Rosa is lying about the chapel being locked. Similar principles solve many of the other Twilights, in fact. Just figure out who is lying.

    Web Animation 
  • The second Strong Bad Email is someone asking Strong Bad that if he hates "Homsar" so much, why doesn't he just kill him? Strong Bad responds that he is utterly right and dumps a "Heavy Lourde" at a newly invented character called Homsar (who did not exist up to this point and had little to no relation to Strong Bad's actual nemesis "Homestar"). Homsar would later prove to be Not Quite Dead and became an ongoing Easter Egg and Ensemble Dark Horse of the series.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Grif seems to frequently do this in response to Sarge's crazy plans.
      Sarge: [paraphrased] I could simulate a third radio using a blowtorch and all this sand to make a refractory lens, thus allowing us to triangulate [Tex's] position!
      Grif: ...Or we could just listen to the coordinates that she's sending us.
    • When the Reds spy on the Blues with the scopes of their sniper rifles, Donut points out that if they can see their enemies, they can shoot them right now. Sarge refuses, saying not killing your enemies up close and personal is not very satisfying.
    • When Agent Washington first visits Blood Gulch, he finds that with most of the teams reassigned, the "war" for the canyon has devolved into an "epic stalemate" between Sarge and Lopez on Red Team, and Sister on Blue Team. Wash points out to Sarge that since he has a 2-1 advantage, he could very easily just attack Sister and finish it. Sarge, of course, refuses to fight a girl.
    • Later on, Tex is laying an utter smackdown on the Reds and Tucker. Tucker - whose armor got colored black after going through a teleporter - is tackled by Tex and she's trying to beat him up. Meanwhile, Simmons has a rocket launcher and he's trying to figure out which black-armored figure to shoot.
      Simmons: (terrified) They look the same! Which one do I shoot?!
      Tucker: (from afar, furious) Ow! Shoot the one who's winning, dumbass!
    • In the "Where There's a Will There's a Wall" mini-series, Lopez points out that Simmons could just use the sniper rifle to shoot the Blue Team instead of using the scope to spy on them. Since no one understands Spanish, his suggestion is ignored.
    • During Singularity, Wash is using Mental Time Travel to figure out where Carolina was in-between the flashback segments of Season 10 and the present day. Unfortunately, he's traveled back to a time period where he was the resident Butt-Monkey and got no respect. As he bemoans his problems to The Triplets, they point out to him that since he can travel to anywhere along his own timeline, he should just travel into the future to when he and Carolina are good friends and he can just ask her then. After a lengthy Stunned Silence, Wash immediately tries that out and gets an answer, causing him to scream in utter rage about how he "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot.
  • The bread and butter of How It Should Have Ended — stating the far simpler and/or funnier way to solve the problem of the story than what the characters in the movie did. Examples include the Jurassic World park containing the Indominus Rex by such simple measures as not putting in a dinosaur-sized exit to the habitat and building a moat inside it (something real life zoos very often do), Bucky avoiding his conditioning being activated by plugging his ears, and June preventing the whole plot of the film by making sure that the statue the Enchantress was trapped in is never damaged or broken (like a good archaeologist should). However, it's also sometimes Deconstructed, like in the Inside Out HISHE, in which the simple method leads to Bing-Bong revealing the existence of the Mind World to Riley, causing her to go insane.

  • Dominic Deegan:
    • One of the earliest strips had Dominic hire Stunt and Bumper to acquire a magic potion from a magic user to cure him of a curse which caused fish to fall on him when he smoked. Stunt asks why he doesn't just quit smoking. Dominic snips back by asking why the thieves keep stealing if they don't like jail time.
    • Another incident had Bumper and Stunt come across an unconscious Dominic on the street being tended to by Luna...
      Bumper: Yeah! We could come up with an ironic revenge that robs him of his dignity and pride!
      Stunt: I want to stab him in the face.
      Bumper: That should work."
  • Used in Nodwick when an evil henchman ends up asking his evil employers why they don't kill the adventurers they have so handily defeated. His only answer is to get a sword shoved in his face and a sharp admonishment that henchmen do not get to give orders.
  • MAG-ISA.
  • Darths & Droids: This strip and yes, a link to this page. May the Force preserve us, we're stuck in an infinite loop!:
    Boba Fett: (to Jango) Why couldn't you just shoot him?
    Jango Fett: What sort of criminal mastermind would I be if I did that?
  • Antihero for Hire: Both averted and lampshaded when Dr. Nefarious, embarrassed by his evil plan's failure, says he'd rather just shoot Shadehawk. Shadehawk is actually PROUD of him.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
    • This comic hangs a lampshade. The example in question references Sleeping Beauty, which is actually an aversion — Maleficent's original intent was to have the princess prick her finger on a spindle and die on her Dangerous 16th Birthday. The Curse Escape Clause that made Happily Ever After possible was added by the youngest of the good fairies, who wasn't strong enough to negate the curse entirely but was strong enough to provide an out. Of course, none of this negates the fact that Maleficent probably could have taken out an infant if she wanted to, instead of waiting sixteen years for her revenge or whatever.
    • In the strip for 2013-05-12, Lex Luthor explains a complicated plan to use physics to make Superman explode himself. Then he proposes a physics solution for killing Batman as well: kinetic energy and a bullet.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja:
    • The comic appears to be pulling this when Frans Rayner has Mongo go to great lengths to capture Dr. McNinja alive instead of just killing him in combat. Dr. McNinja actually calls him out on this. It then justifies it when Rayner reveals that Mongo has learned the value of human life and refuses to kill, forcing Rayner to go with the capture plan instead.
    • Later, this strip pulls it when yet another Alternate Universe Chuck gets roped into becoming mayor post-attempted invasion from the Radical Lands. And then once again.
  • xkcd:
  • Inverted in Sluggy Freelance, in which the evil villain is talked into not just shooting the hero and instead using an overly complex and silly Death Trap as an interrogation method.
  • Discussed in the "Ask Vector Prime a Question" section of the Insecticomics site; Vector Prime, a Physical God, could have destroyed Megatron and save all of reality rather easily in Transformers Cybertron... But he states that if he did, the villain's fangirls would kill him. Later, he claims that Executive Meddling prevented him from just saving the world in a single episode, lamenting the fact that he could have spent the rest of the series on a beach getting a foot massage from a supermodel.
  • Bob and George: "Um, wouldn't it be easier to, say, blast me now, while I'm hanging here completely defenseless?"
  • Oglaf: Mistress, clearly aware of the situation, cuts to the chase.
  • Awkward Zombie: Professor Layton refuses to do anything unless it's roundabout, elaborate and involves as many matchsticks as possible.
  • In Girl Genius:
  • In Cucumber Quest, Cordelia asks the Nightmare Knight why he doesn't just "defeat the hero yourself? Right now?" She narrowly escapes being punished for her insubordination. The actual answer is revealed much later, along with Nightmare Knight's true motivations.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore's father sends her a strange device, but neglects to include any instructions or even a description. She spends a few strips with Marten and Claire trying to figure out what it could be, until Dora walks in and points out they could just call Hannelore's father.
    Marten: [Face Palm] I can't believe that didn't occur to any of us.
  • Defied on Sequential Art. Whenever the gang runs into a life-threatening problem, Art is usually the one to come up with the obvious solution of simply calling the police. Unfortunately, Pip or Kat usually points out that the types of situations they run into are considered prank calls by the police, so that's not actually a viable option.
  • Grrl Power: The heroes find a portal the bad guy used to escape and want to know where it leads. Obviously, they can't just go through themselves since it's probably trapped to hell and back. But the bad guy left a minion behind, so Dabbler interrogates him, plants a tracker on him, lets him escape, and starts tracking him across the city while doing high-level mathematics in her head to predict exactly where he's going so they'll have a team ready in time. Then Sydney mentions that it's too bad they couldn't have just put a tracking spell on a rock and tossed it into the portal, and Dabbler lapses into embarrassed silence.
    Sydney: You mean that would have worked?

    Web Original 
  • Cracked
    • "The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots" offers a simple solution after the end of every such plot. After going through each plot, the alternative the article suggests is a much simpler plan that always ends with "shoot the target in the face." The exception is number 4 (the explosive toy car) could actually be a sneaky way to do it with modern technology.
    • "Was 9/11 an Inside Job?" goes over the Loose Change video and the theory that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were orchestrated by the American government. After going over how ridiculously complicated, intricate, and elaborate such a conspiracy would have to be, along with debunking the authenticity of the claims in Loose Change, the article concludes "No, 9/11 wasn't an inside job; the conspiracy theorists just want to feel like the smartest people in the room."

    Web Videos 
  • James Rolfe made a video for "Cinemassacre's Top 10 Worst Movie Clichés". Number 1 is labeled "Stupid Villains" and boils down to him demanding "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?!" It ends with a The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie clip that subverts and lampshades the trope.
  • He's at it again as The Angry Video Game Nerd when reviewing the various Hydlide games. To compare the game to literal shit he quotes Harry G. Frankfurt's essay On Bullshit which gives an elaborate theory on why people find feces repulsive to which he gives a much more simple solution to the question:
    On Bullshit: Just as hot air as speech that has been emptied of all informative content, so excrement is matter from which everything nutritive has been removed. Excrement may be regarded as the corpse of nourishment. What remains when the vital elements and food have been exhausted. In this respect, excrement is a representation of death. Perhaps it is for making death so intimate that we find excrement so repulsive.
    Nerd: Or is it perhaps because it stinks?!
  • The Spoony Experiment:
    • When Original!Spoony shows up intending to take back his show from Clone!Spoony:
      Original Spoony: That's why I started training at a Shaolin monastery... until I realized the lessons would be really expensive, so I just went out and bought this gun!
    • Clone Spoony then reveals he's reviewing Final Fantasy X prompting Original!Spoony to shoot himself and change back into a Black Lantern. Yeah, it's complicated.
  • Lampshaded in this video, starring Gun Man.
  • "Shark Pool" is a trailer for a fictional movie about a shark in a swimming pool. A guy offers the suggestion of "just don't go in the pool". Unfortunately, he's the Only Sane Man and the rest of the guests are Too Dumb to Live.
  • In the Achievement Hunter Let's Play GTA V episode "Lindsay's Heist", the gang attempts to push a port-a-potty into a truck from a high building, a port-a-potty that would be used to carry their "loot" and be picked up by the Cargobob. Ryan Haywood points out the obvious solution - just get the Cargobob and take the port-a-potty with them. There's a brief silence before they tell him to shut up.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In the episode "The DVD," Gumball accidentally ruins a DVD he rented, and goes through all manner of elaborate Zany Schemes to either pay for or replace said DVD. Darwin suggests that they simply "face the consequences of their actions and tell Mom" every few minutes or so, but Gumball dismisses him every time. At the end, when Nicole does find out and simply pays for the DVD, Gumball hypocritically throws the same "face the consequences of their actions" line right back at Darwin; Darwin, justifiably pissed, promptly decks him for it.
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series
    • In the Episode "Mooove On Over", The two cows, Duchess and Princess, are arguing that the other is taking up too much room in their stall. Cadpig tries to help, by using her own style of therapy on them, which eventually leads to the entire Dearly Farm at each other's throats. Duchess and Princess then explain what their issue is and Spot suggests they just open the side of their stall up, which they agree would work. Hearing how easy the solution is makes all the other animals enraged at Cadpig.
    • In the Episode “Film Fatale”, The Dalmatians learn from a Newspaper that the Thunderbolt Movie is playing at the Cruellaplex Theater; however, said Theater does not allow animals in. Spot suggests simply checking to see if the Film is also playing at an Animal Friendly Theater, but Lucky’s impulsiveness interrupts her before she gets a chance to check. After their misadventures in the Cruellaplex, they find the other Dalmatians watching the Film at a Drive-In Theater, with Pongo showing them that the Newspaper also said it was playing there.
  • In Steven Universe, during the episode "Sworn to the Sword", Steven becomes concerned for his friend Connie but isn't quite sure how to tell her. He consults a book titled "How to Talk to People":
    Step 1: Think about what you want to say.
    Step 2: Say it.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • A comic-based episode had Joker poring over a variety of odd tortures to inflict on Batman; he flies into a rage after Harley Quinn matter-of-factly offers to just shoot him. Irony bites Harley in the ass after her own dramatic death trap nearly succeeds until Mr. J becomes angry at her for upstaging him and busts in to stop her. Even more ironic, the Joker then goes to shoot the restrained Batman anyway after he gets Harley out of the picture, as it's just too rare an opportunity to turn down. By this point, of course, Batman has freed himself. The Joker is probably the canonical example of a Big Bad who will accept nothing less than a Death Trap ending for the hero, no matter how many times it's been tried and failed.
    • In the episode "The Trial", Batman's rogues gallery put him through a Joker Jury scenario. Two-Face makes the off-hand comment that he suggested "a quick slug between the eyes" instead of going through all the theatrics, but lost the coin toss.
    • One episode has Batgirl and Catwoman suspended over acid after being captured by Roland Dagget. Batgirl tries to taunt him into gloating, telling their master plan, or killing them in some ridiculously elaborate villain way (to buy time to be rescued), but Dagget points out the simple and smart thing to do is to just shoot them and use the acid to dispose of the bodies.
  • Danny Phantom: In "The Ultimate Enemy," Danny's evil future self traps Danny in the future while he goes back in time to make sure the events that lead to his existence still happen. Danny can't travel back to the past until he removes the time traveling medallion his future self fused inside him. The only person he can go to for help is the future version of Vlad Masters, who's now become The Atoner, planning to have him use the Ghost Gauntlets to remove the medallion so he can return to the past and stop his future self. Vlad, however, points out that he could also just kill Danny on the spot and prevent the Bad Future from ever happening ("Didn't think of that, did you?"); fortunately, he doesn't go through with it.
  • Justice League (also part of the DC Animated Universe)
    • Several years later, it seems the Joker has learnt his lesson. After the Injustice Gang captures Batman, Luthor wants to keep Batman imprisoned so that he can interrogate him and learn the Justice League's weaknesses. Joker, who knows from experience that keeping Batman alive isn't going to end well, tells Luthor to Just Shoot Him. Luthor doesn't listen, and Bats go on to take the Injustice League apart from the inside. Ironically, there is never a suggestion made to remove Batman's mask.
    • Ex-actor-turned-shapeshifter Clayface makes the suggestion to Gorilla Grodd in another episode after capturing the heroes, specifically mentioning he's acted in enough movies to catch on that the heroes always think of a way out, and it would be better to just kill the subdued heroes immediately instead of trying to bring about a dramatic climax. Gorilla Grodd comments that he's not much for movies, and convinces him to go along with the dramatic approach by offering him an important center-stage role in the executions. Of course, it turns out "Clayface" is really the shapeshifting hero J'onn J'onzz masquerading as the villain.
  • When The Joker obtains godlike power in the "Emperor Joker" episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Harley Quinn suggests that, now that he's got Batman where he wants him, he should take his mask off and find out who he is. Note that he actually kills Batman. Repeatedly.
    Joker: And reduce my primal enemy to a mere man? Harley, my dear, I'm so disappointed in you. Where's the fun in that?
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Mister Mxyzptlk's wife asks Mxyzptlk why he simply doesn't destroy Superman instead of playing games with him after Mxyzptlk expresses his annoyance with being repeatedly out-foxed by the Man of Steel. Mxyzptlk (who is a Reality Warper on level with a Physical God) decides to follow her advice... by building an overly complicated Humongous Mecha and trying to fight Superman with it. It works about as well as can be imagined. He did have a bit better luck when he just went with a kryptonite missile though; still failed but the attempt at being more direct was there.
  • The Zeta Project, which is also part of the DCAU, actually went out of its way to explain why they didn't shoot Zeta. Apparently the writers were aware this trope was being overused, so the first episode of the series proper has Bennett explaining two things: firstly, he's a very expensive robot assassin they cannot afford to rebuild, and secondly, he's an assassin and too much violence could trigger violence in retaliation. The possibility of bystanders being hit by stray bullets is addressed later on, as is the general concept of civilian death and crossfire damage. It is also mentioned they want to bring him back as intact as possible to find out what terrorist group was able to change his programming.
  • Transformers:
    • A heroic example in Beast Wars: After Optimus Primal took the Spark of Optimus Prime into his body to thwart Megatron's assassination attempt, Megatron came into the Ark with Inferno to finish the job. Despite Prime's spark giving Primal the size, as well as the physical and fire power of a large Autobot, he hesitates to attack since he might alter history. Regardless, after Megatron and Optimus argue a bit, Rattrap gets fed up and asks:
    Rattrap: Oh for bootin' up cold!! Will ya just shoot 'im?
    • People have been saying this about Megatron and Starscream for years due to Screamer's constant attempts to take leadership of the Decepticons in just about every continuity. In Transformers Animated, it finally happens, only for Starscream to become immortal from a shard of the Allspark embedded in his head. Megatron proceeds to kill him about five more times in a single episode, to no avail.
  • Kim Possible has a tradition of Genre Blind villains and savvy henchmen, so you'll see the Simple Solution getting stated a lot.
    • Señor Senior Sr. is a billionaire who has become a willfully genre-blind villain simply For the Lulz. His son, Señor Senior Jr., is not terribly bright but is at least capable of noticing that 'the traditions of villainy' are not very practical. His common-sense questions exasperate his father, who feels that his son "doesn't get it".
      Señor Senior Sr.: I will aim the laser so as to shoot the icicles, causing them to drop upon our foes.
      Señor Senior Jr.: Why do you not simply aim the laser at their bodies??
      Señor Senior Sr.: Junior, if you do not understand the traditions of villainy by now, I have failed as a parent.
    • Shego, the Hypercompetent Sidekick to the resident Mad Scientist Dr. Drakken, tends to state simple solutions too, but usually out of exasperation. Drakken's forever coming up with ways to seal Kim in a deathtrap or break her Heroic Willpower, while Shego feels that it would take a lot less effort and brainpower to, you know, shoot her.
      Shego: I prefer the 'direct approach', but you know Drakken....
  • In several episodes of Sonic Sat AM (as well as in some early issues of the Archie Sonic comic), Robotnik has Sonic at his mercy, and Sniveley asks why Robotnik doesn't just roboticize him. Snively also has a habit of questioning Robotnik's more elaborate plots.
  • The Fairly OddParents
    • In "Father Time!", Wanda constantly does this, only to be ignored. First, she suggests that Timmy wish all his chores done. Cosmo suggests that he melt it all with Heat Vision. Then, after this wish destroys Mr. Turner's prize trophy, she suggests Timmy apologize. Cosmo suggests Time Travel, and this wins. Then, as they go back in time to stop Mr. Turner from winning the trophy, Wanda points out he could just have gone back a few minutes and stopped himself from destroying the trophy in the first place.
    • The Villain Episode has Crocker becoming Norm's master. Finding they both hate Timmy, Norm grants Crocker's wishes with no catch... at first. However, throughout the show, Crocker insists on using elaborate Wile E. Coyote-like traps rather than easily teleporting him to Mars, as Norm keeps suggesting. It annoys Norm to no end. And it's used against him at the end after Norm agrees on a temporary truce with Timmy.
  • South Park: Knowing Cartman's trapper keeper will take over the world...
    Bill Cosby (robot): (drawing a gun) Well, that does it!
    Kyle: Hey, what are you doing?
    Bill Cosby (robot): I have no other choice. For the sake of humanity, I have to kill him. [Cartman]
    Kyle: Oh, OK.
    Stan: That's fine. (pauses) No, wait!
    Bill Cosby (robot): What?
    Stan: Can I do it?
    Bill Cosby (robot): Oh well, I suppose. (hands gun over to Stan)
    Stan: Sweet! Kiss your ass goodbye, Fatboy!
    Bill Cosby (robot): Wait, perhaps there is another way. If you take me to where Eric Cartman lives, I could try reasoning with his human mother.
    Stan: Well, yeah. Or we could just kill him.
    Kyle: Yeah, that would be faster.
    Stan: He's right there.
    Bill Cosby (robot): I'm afraid I can't. I think I'm actually starting to feel what you "humans" call compassion. It's an amazing feeling.
    Stan & Kyle: Oh.
  • Lampshaded in Earthworm Jim, when he sneaks up behind an Elite Mook with a towed howitzer, aims it, then sighs he can't do it since it's too easy. He then takes out the mook with a ridiculous ambush, like he did with the others. It should be noted that when it comes to shooting wildly with his raygun, Jim has little hesitation.
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Fallen Arches" presents a heroic example. The girls run up against the Ministry of Pain, an elderly team of arch-criminals who have recently come out of retirement. Despite Bubbles and Buttercup pointing out that they easily take them, Blossom refuses to let them fight the Ministry of Pain on the grounds that they have to "respect their elders," and instead decides to talk the Ministry's equally elderly archenemies, Captain Righteous and Lefty, out of retirement to do the job for them. The end result: all five old men end up hospitalized, and the local news outright states that the entire mess could have been avoided if the Powerpuff Girls had just stepped in and stopped the Ministry of Pain in the first place.
  • In Johnny Test, the Butler of the villain, a cat (It Makes Sense in Context), asks him why his Doomsday Device has a countdown on it. The villain justifies this by pointing out it gives them enough time to get out of range.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In the episode "The Lepidopterists", Jonah Venture Jr. is dumbfounded when he finds out that he must consult with both the OSI and the handbook of the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the rules of "arching" instead of just killing the Monarch after being attacked. He's told that as insane and stupid as the whole process is, it's better to play along than actually pissing off the Guild.
    • When 21 captures Hank and Dean to try and get them to confess killing 24, Rusty and Sergeant Hatred follow their trace back to the villain community of Malice where Doctor Ms. The Monarch suggests to Rusty "Didn't you try calling them?"
    • As silly as "Arching" is, it is the only thing stopping the Guild full of powerful, mentally unstable and highly dangerous people from doing real crimes rather than acts of cartoonish super-villainy.
  • In the Masters of Evil episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, after the Masters captured five of the Avengers, Abomination tells Baron Zemo to kill the ones they have captured, because the others will come. But Zemo ignores, and even berates him. He really should have listened.
    Abomination: It's a mistake to keep them alive, Zemo!
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In one episode, the Eds want to watch a monster movie at Ed's place, but Sarah keeps kicking them out.
      Edd: We could just go to my house, Eddy...
      Eddy: What? And ruin the plot?
    • And in "The Day the Ed Stood Still" when Eddy is trying to get into Kevin's house from the back to see the other kids' terrified reactions to Ed's monster form:
      Eddy: (tugging on a window latch with all his strength) WHAT'S WITH THESE STUPID WINDOWS?!
      Edd: (draws Eddy's attention, then calmly opens the backdoor, which was unlocked, and smirks.)
      Eddy: I hate it when you do that.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Picture This", Ferb had left his skateboard in Britain, and Phineas announces a plan to teleport it back home with "a highly intricate and sophisticated machine". Lawrence, their dad, suggests that they could just build a new skateboard instead. However, the boys suffer Complexity Addiction and ignore the easier option.
  • Atomic Betty: Maximus IQ once disguised a robot to pose as a long lost galactic guardian and lure Betty to a trap. Since the robot had an explosive device, Minimus suggested they could simply detonate it and finish off Betty but Maximus wanted to make sure Betty knew he's the reason of her demise. Then, as he had her dangling over a pool with deadly fish, Minimus suggested they'd just cut the rope but Maximus wanted to taunt her.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Brainiac 5 stops Bouncing Boy from using his communicator to alert Superman, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl about Dr. Londo's illicit experiments with the local wildlife (and possibly with other beings as well.) Brainiac points out that Dr. Londo would be monitoring communicator traffic and tried to think hard enough for Saturn Girl to contact them telepathically. Bouncing Boy states that he could call out to them seeing that they were within range to hear him; it worked. Just as well too as Saturn Girl was unconscious at the time.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Marge on the Lam" Ruth Powers stole her ex-husband's car since he wouldn't pay alimony. Marge's response:
      Marge: Didn't you realize all you had to do was report him to the police?
      Ruth: Marge, you're the levelheaded friend I never had.
    • In "Hungry Hungry Homer", Homer is on a hunger strike so Marge has the kids eat what would have been his portions of dinner to keep it from going to waste. Lisa points out that she could just make less food, to which Marge replies "That's not how I do things, Lisa" while glaring at her.
  • In an episode of Timon & Pumbaa, Timon and Pumbaa are in Spain where Pumbaa has been mistaken for a bull and is about to be forced into a bullfight he cannot win. While they wait for the fight to begin, Timon draws up an incredibly detailed escape plan involving maps, tunnels and much more. When he finishes, Pumbaa simply says "... maybe we should just sneak out the back door."
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Dipper and Mabel need to sneak into the Mystery Shack, which is being guarded by government agents. Mabel suggests beating up the guards and do an Unnecessary Combat Roll as they go through the front door. Dipper then outright states that there's a simpler solution. They then use a Grappling-Hook Pistol to zipline through the attic window.
    • This is actually the cause of the overarching Myth Arc. When Stan tried to burn the journal the Author had given to him rather than go through a Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle, he didn't want his research destroyed and flipped out, resulting in a skirmish that got the scientist sucked into the portal for thirty years.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century'', Dodgers shows the Space Cadet a needlessly complicated route for reaching Planet X, so complicated he doesn't even understand it himself. Cadet then suggests following a line of conveniently lettered planets, a suggestion Dodgers then takes as his own.
    • In "My Little Duckaroo", Daffy is a bounty hunter trying to bring in outlaw Nasty Canasta. After failing to subdue him with tough talk, sidekick Porky says "Why don't you just plain old arrest him?" Daffy does just that, although it turns out to be just as ineffective.
  • In one episode of Dave the Barbarian, the Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy is trying to break into Udregoth Castle. When his nephew asks why he doesn't just use the Mystical Amulet of Hogswineboar to blow a hole in the wall, Chuckles tries to give a reason and after failing, mutters how much he hates his nephew before using the amulet to blast the wall.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: In one episode, all of Jimmy Neutron's past villains have teamed up. They had just captured Jimmy on their spaceship and started shotgunning for ideas on how to kill him. Eventually, Finbar Calamitous starts to map out a ridiculously complicated and elaborate device that combined everyone's ideas, until Baby Eddie blurts out "Just blast him into deep space!"
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo has this as a Running Gag where, after the episode's villain goes on their Motive Rant, Daphne asks them why they didn't go with the obvious solution to their problem, to which they say they didn't think of it. For example, in the episode, "Night of the Living Burger", a local restaurant, O'Greazy's Bucket O' Fun Restaurant, is being haunted by a giant sentient burger. In the end, the villain turns out to be the restaurant's most decorated employee. He was upset that for all of his years of service, Mr. O'Greazy never gave him what he really wanted: a raise. Daphne then asks him why he didn't just quit and find a better paying job. He never thought of that.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the Justice Friends minisode "Pain in the Mouth," Krunk suffers a toothache as a result of getting a tortilla chip stuck in his tooth, and Major Glory chooses to go through all manner of elaborate, overly complicated schemes to try to either remove the chip or the tooth; after every failure, Valhallen suggests that they simply take Krunk to the dentist, and every time, Major Glory blows him off on the grounds that he's The Leader, so they do what he says. Eventually, Krunk, recalling what his favorite TV show said to do when one has a toothache, goes to the dentist on his own and said dentist is able to remove the chip quickly and painlessly. It's also revealed that Major Glory is overdue for some extensive (and presumably painful) dental work, which explains why he was so against the dentist in the first place.
  • Chowder: In the episode "Gazpacho Moves In," Gazpacho, having been thrown out of his mother's house, stays at Mung Daal's catering company until he gets back on his feet, and quickly becomes The Thing That Would Not Leave. Mung Daal decides the best way to kick Gazpacho out is to use a Multi-Rye Sandwich to clone him, intending that Gazpacho would get so annoyed by his own behavior that he would leave. Truffles even lampshades it ("'Cause just asking him to leave makes so little sense."). The plan backfires when Gazpacho becomes friends with the clone, and when Chowder stupidly feeds him even more sandwiches and makes dozens of clones, it's only then that Mung decides to simply kick Gazpacho out.
  • In the Family Guy episode, "Pilling Them Softly", Peter and Quagmire end up at odds over a cooking show they're working on. In the end, they both decide they don't want to lose their friendship over a TV show and decide the only way to get out of it is to say the one word that cost Paula Deen her show. note  Right before they're about to say it, it cuts to them at the Drunken Clam looking awkwardly at Cleveland, who angrily tells them they could have just quit the show.
  • A Villain of the Week in Totally Spies! is a former model who lost her leg in a photoshoot with a lion. She decides to take over the fashion industry using a machine to swap body parts between women (such as Clover's legs, Alex's hair and Sam's teeth) and create an army of perfect models. Alex asks why she didn't just use the machine to get herself a new leg instead. The villain replies that she has a point, but her plan sounds a lot more fun.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • "Slappy Goes Walnuts", an Animaniacs skit where Slappy decides to steal walnuts from Doug the Dog to make lunch for her nephew, gives us this amazing dialogue when Skippy suggests just buying the walnuts they need:
    Skippy: I don't know, Aunt Slappy. I think we should just go to the store and buy some walnuts.
    Slappy: Ooh yeah! We'll have them in hysterics with that bit! Six minutes in the check-out aisle! Oooh, somebody stop me, I'm laughing!
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "The Big Question", Filburt is trying to propose to Dr. Hutchinson, who is attending her high school reunion with an old friend named Tiger (who her mother keeps trying to push together and get her to leave Filburt). He and Heffer end up coming up with a plan based on a tradition where the homecoming king from Hutchinson's class (Tiger) goes to cut the cake, which they end up rigging with a bomb that's supposed to cover him with icing, giving Filburt enough time to pop the question. As they're explaining the plan, Rocko points out that Filburt could have just gotten to Hutchinson right then and ask her since she's alone. He initially refuses to break from the plan, only for Rocko to accuse him of stalling.
  • It happens twice in a row on Captain Star during Day of the Zooties, where a massive Hive Mind sentient carpet that spreads like Alien Kudzu and takes over the planet by covering every surface and enslaving the minds of those who live there into feeding it by shampooing it. (Just go with it). Star decides that, since it was brought there by a salesman, the best way to deal with it is to simply return it to the manufacturer. When that fails (as the people who created it have been taken over by it), Scarlet decides the next best thing is to simply disobey the aftercare instructions printed on the tag. This works.
  • On one episode of WordGirl, Dr. Two-Brains has been stealing gold — to turn into potato salad with his gold-to-potato-salad ray, which he then turns into cheese with his potato-salad-to-cheese ray. His henchman at one point actually ask if they can use some of the gold to pay rent, but he's reluctant to allow it because he has "a whole mouse thing going on here" and will be considered a boring villain if he just steals gold to use as gold. When WordGirl finally confronts him, she has some questions regarding his methods.
    WordGirl: So, you're stealing gold, then transforming it into potato salad?
    Dr. Two-Brains: Mmm-hmm!
    WordGirl: Then you're taking that potato salad and transforming it into cheese?
    Dr. Two-Brains: Right.
    WordGirl: Doesn't that seem a little unnecessarily difficult? I mean, why not steal potato salad instead of gold?
    Dr. Two-Brains: Huh?
    WordGirl: Or use the gold to buy the potato salad. Or, why not just steal cheese in the first place?
    Dr. Two-Brains: Oh... boy. Seems obvious when you say it that way, but... but I have my reasons!

    Real Life 
  • Penn Jillette has stated that the Greatest E-mail he ever sent from a text-to-impact ratio was when he was one of the few who proofread Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion before publication. He came to a part of the manuscript when Dawkins quoted an American hater of his calling him "a cheese eater!", and Dawkins then spent two-and-a-half page trying to deconstruct how being a cheese eater could be a bad thing, where cheese was manufactured in America and if there was some correlation with that area and atheism. Penn's immediate realisation and comment?
    Richard! RATS LIKE CHEEESE! / Love, Penn.
  • Harrison Ford is credited with using a variant of "Why don't I just shoot him?" on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as he was suffering from food poisoning and wasn't up for filming a long fight sequence against a swordsman. The resulting moment - Indy pulls out his gun and just shoots the swordsman dead - became a Signature Scene for the Indiana Jones franchise and firmly established Indy as a Combat Pragmatist. It also frustrated the actor playing the swordsman who had spent a lot of time learning the fight choreography only to see his big scene reduced to a 10-second joke.
  • From the set of The Lord of the Rings: "Why don't I just zap them?" "Be-because your batteries are low. You can't get any AA's in the city. You've tried, but... gone to every chemist in the city but none of them have AA batteries."
  • A Non-verbal example of this comes from the writings of Simplicius of Cilica, regarding an Ancient Greek philosophical debate. One of Zeno's Paradoxes states that it's actually impossible to leave a room, since first you have to cross half the distance to the door, then half that distance, then half that distance, etc., getting very close but never actually being able to leave (Greek Mathematics didn't have the concept of zero). While other logicians proposed more intricate responses to the paradox, Diogenes of Sinope (appropriately, one of the founders of Cynic philosophy) simply stood up and walked out of the room. Strictly speaking, not the correct way to refute a Logical Paradox, but it's hard to argue with the result. One interpretation is that the paradox was meant to show that reality is an illusion since one can physically appear to do what is logically impossible.
  • In the lead-up to World War II, a visiting British politician asked Hitler how he thought the English should respond to the situation in India. Hitler's advice: "Shoot Gandhi."
  • The NSA scandal in 2013 has made many Conspiracy Theorists believe that the government can spy on anyone at any time through the internet, much like they did in a certain Orwellian novel. Those who state the simple solution that debunks this - it's rather easy to unplug the computer - are often scorned.
    • Related to this is the manner in which computers which have to really be secure are protected from hackers: not by ridiculously sophisticated protection software, but simply air gapping them and not having a wireless capability.
    • The only data transfer method that can't be remotely hacked is physically taking the hard drive to the location.
    • Similarly, for added security against hackers using webcams to spy on people, many webcams come with manual shutters or physical switches to disconnect them, and lacking those you can just put a piece of tape over the lens like former FBI director James Comey admitted to doing. Go ahead and try to hack through electrical tape. We'll wait.
  • Speaking of conspiracy theories, many of them are dependent on ignoring the people stating the simple solution. For example, the Flat Earth theory has convoluted solutions for why the horizon exists, why you can see the curve at sufficient heights, why you can fly around the Earth, you name it. The simple solution of "Maybe the Earth isn't flat?" will be entirely ignored.
  • It was once stated that if the moon landing was a hoax, the cover-up would be so enormously complex that, in the end, it would be easier just to land on the moon. Not to mention that while we actually did have the technology to land on the moon in 1969 we didn't have the technology to fake it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): State The Simple Solution


BB - There is Tape

In Season 10 "Wag the Song", Bob and Linda's idea to block the sunlight is having Teddy hold a cardboard on the window until the sun moves. Teddy points out they could just tape to hold the cardboard on the window, but Teddy is too nice to turn down their request.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / StatingTheSimpleSolution

Media sources:

Main / StatingTheSimpleSolution