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Talking Your Way Out

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"Talking might make you feel a lot better... and less homicidal..."
Rhea Snaketail, Slightly Damned

Someone has been captured by their enemies, usually a group with distinct personalities and backstories, like a Quirky Miniboss Squad, who operate on more or less equal terms with each other (as opposed to a singular Big Bad and a collection of Mooks).

This character is well known to their captors, who are careful not to give them any obvious openings — they disarm them, disable their powers, lock them up, and keep guards on them at all time. Escape by brute force isn't going to work, as they're seriously outnumbered and lacks access to their weapons and abilities. Without resources, MacGyvering up a solution isn't going to work, either.

How will they escape?

They sit back, pretend to accept their fate, and engage in surreptitious psychological warfare against most or all of the members of the enemy group. Engaging them in idle conversation, they plants the seeds of discord, playing on the...

  • ...egos — "How can you take orders from that buffoon? You should really be the one in charge."
  • ...reputations — "What, are you too afraid to release me and fight me yourself?"
  • ...greed — "What are they paying you? I'll double it."
  • ...sympathies — "These morons don't understand you."
  • ...insecurities — "It's really a shame the rest of them don't pay any attention to you."
  • appeal — "You know what I really like? A man in a cage."
  • ...and mutual distrust — "You realize he's just going to off the rest of you once he gets what he wants, right?"

...of each individual member.

The captors never stop to think that they're being played for chumps, or wonder if the character has anything to gain by starting a power struggle. The resulting dissension and infighting allows them to escape in the confusion. Truly, The Guards Must Be Crazy.

Smart captors almost never fall for this. Occasionally The Leader of the group will catch on to The Plan, but it's usually too little, too late at that point. Group dissolves, character escapes, plan fails. Roll Aesop about trust.

This is the main method of escape for characters who are locked up well and good, and contractually or circumstantially obliged to use their wits rather than brute force. Often used to give The Smart Guy or The Face or The Social Expert an awesome moment. It could be a A Day in the Limelight, showing how they can win battles without super powers or incredible fighting skill. It also a common tactic used by the Guile Hero, Defiant Captive, and Damsel out of Distress. The captors may end up lamenting that they Forgot to Gag Him.

Sub-Trope of Mook–Face Turn.

Often an illustration of The Power of Language. Compare with Hannibal Lecture which is a similar situation which is based on psychologically breaking captors instead of causing a confusion to escape in.


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  • A commercial for a Zeel rainwear has a surprisingly minimalistic example of this: a journalist wearing a Zeel rain jacket is captured by a gang armed with rifles, dragged in front of an organized crime boss, and sentenced to death. The henchman notices the nice rain jacket, and before pulling the trigger, decides to take it off of him. The crime boss demands the jacket from the henchman and insults the henchman when he objects to handing it over: all of a sudden, everyone except the journalist has a gun trained on them, in an absolute hair-trigger scenario. At that point, the journalist talks his way out of the situation alive with a single word: "FIRE!" Result: all hostiles eliminated. ...Then, of course, he gets his jacket back, too—it wouldn't be a commercial if we skipped that part!

    Anime & Manga 
  • After God: Tokinaga asks Alula to give Waka's body back in exchange for information on the rumored Man Stronger Than Gods, which he learns about from Alula in the first place. Alula ponders why is he talking to her without recording devices and goes back and forth if he's lying or not and visibly panics to the point Tokinaga even gets annoyed. Alula eventually decides to give Waka up until she can think about it more.
  • Attempted by Kagome Higurashi in Inuyasha when she is kidnapped by Manten and Hiten. While she doesn't secure her release, she does manage to keep herself alive until Inuyasha comes to fight them.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: One of Relena Darlian's specialties. Early in the story she convinced a certain Hitman with a Heart with a gun not to shoot her to death... and then she roped him into dancing with her at a high-class party!

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority were engaged in a battle with psychotic super-soldiers engineered by the government at one point, and their resident Badass, the Midnighter, was trapped under some rubble and about to be obliterated by one of them. In a few sentences, he essentially deconstructed the soldier's life and forced him to realize what a failure he was. The soldier paused, removed the rubble, handed the Midnighter his helmet, and walked away from the fight. At the end of the story arc, the Midnighter even gets a letter from the guy, thanking him for helping him out of his self-destructive situation and telling him about his new wife and kids.
  • When Boo is taken captive in Copperhead he taunts Brex into giving him a physical beating, which Boo transforms into an escape attempt.
  • Subverted by Empowered, who spots a life-threatening aneurysm in the head of the mook who's guarding her, using her suit's X-Ray Vision. The mook doesn't believe her at first and thinks she's trying to pull this, but she is dead serious and convinces him to go to the hospital; she just didn't want anyone to suffer the same fate as her father.
  • Hellblazer: John Constantine has been known to escape from really dire dangers using this tactic. A full and almost flawless con man, he's always tricking demons, angels and monsters, and even criminals and ruffians, into distrusting each other until they kill themselves. Special mention to the "...Freezes Over" storyline, where he spends the four issues solving a situation with three armed criminals purely by talking. The highlights are when he talks a Serial Killer into suicide and talks a normal man into becoming a serial killer (he also talks a man into dying but he was already bleeding, he just distracted him until he bled out).
  • Lucifer: In "The House of Windowless Rooms", a demonic assassin is sent against Lucifer while he's powerless and mortal. The gods who sent the assassin remark that she's obviously failed, as Lucifer has had enough time to start talking to her, which is all he needs.
  • When Quinton Zempfester is imprisoned by trolls in Thieves & Kings, he talks his way out by excitedly greeting one of the trolls as the spy sent to free him, thus creating suspicion among the other trolls that he is a spy, and setting in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the hapless troll finds that he is doomed to torture for his imaginary spy secrets if he does not go rogue and flee immediately. Rather than face this fugitive fate alone, Quinton offers the troll his assistance, if released, and the two make a break for it together.
  • In X-Men Unlimited # 47, Cyclops wakes up after a fight with an army of generic Black Ops Ninjas to find himself strapped down and about to have his eyes cut out by a low-on-ethics surgeon. He calmly explains to the surgeon that he'd better remember to kill him when he's done, because he's memorised the brand of the surgical equipment in the room and will be able to track him down by it. Oh, and even if he is dead, there's a telepathic redhead who will be looking for his killers. Either way, the end result will be a conversation with Wolverine. The surgeon lets him go, requesting a light beating to justify the escape. Cyclops is happy to oblige.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When "Glitch" is captured by some Ytirflirks he manages to convince them that not only was he not part of the Slave Revolt, he is also so worried about the state of their ship that they release him to act as their mechanic. He swiftly uses this against them.

  • A Crooked Man: Zander Rice tries to talk out Johann from killing him by offering to help him in protecting X-23 as data on her are loose to the public. However, Johann quickly points to him that he had already erased all of the data.
  • At one point in the Twilight AU fic Luminosity, sensible!Bella, still human, has been kidnapped by the evil vampire James, who's probably going to kill her because he wants to make Edward suffer. Bella's only chance to survive is to talk James into doing something stupid, and it works: she lies to him, saying that no, Edward doesn't care about her and was going to give her over to The Volturi because they give out rewards in exchange for humans with special powers. James believes her, and takes her to the Volturi. They're not too happy with James...
  • Shadowfax tries this in You Obey. It backfires spectacularly, and also marks the moment when the story gets serious.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Cars 2, when Mater is surrounded by a pack of Mooks, he tries to invoke this by sympathizing with them as outcasts and laughing stocks. It doesn't work.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Done by The Joker in The Dark Knight. After Batman and Commissioner Gordon leave, he is left alone in the interrogation room with one of Gordon's detectives... at which point The Joker goads the policeman into attacking him by explaining his motivations for killing six of that detective's friends. At which point, he makes his escape. What makes this a truly interesting case is that the detective was warned beforehand that the Joker would use this tactic on him, and not to fall for it. The problem is that the Joker is just that good at manipulating people.
    • At the beginning of the film, one of the bank robbers realises that their boss has given each of them orders to kill one of the others once their part of the plan is complete, and tries to talk the last of his fellows around by pointing out that their boss will do the same to him. Unfortunately, the last robber is that boss.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), this tends to be Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord's, M.O. since he's a Puny Earthling surrounded by stronger and/or better-armed foes. He managed to talk an enraged Drax down from murdering Gamora, and convinced Rocket, who originally wanted to turn him in for a bounty, to team up with him and Gamora and escape the Kyln. Then he managed to convince an enraged Yondu who was seconds away from murdering him to team up and help the team defeat Ronan.
  • Done in Idiocracy by the protagonist, who's a completely average guy by modern-day standards but a genius 500 years from now. When arrested and taken to jail, he manages to convince a cop to let him go by telling him... that he should be in the "released" line. Given how degraded humanity is, it works.
  • James Bond:
    • In Moonraker, Bond uses Hugo Drax's speech to inspire a Heel–Face Turn in Jaws, who takes notice of how much he and his short, bespectacled, braces-wearing girlfriend stick out amongst Drax's future "Master Race".
    • In Goldfinger, Bond uses this to get out of Goldfinger's Death Trap. He reminds Goldfinger that there are other agents out there who will replace him if he dies, implying that his death would give the rest of MI6 an excuse to move against him immediately.
  • Pistols, cannons and swords pale in comparison to this trope's power in Pirates of the Caribbean. Jack Sparrow can talk himself out of any situation, and he seemed to have fun teaching the fine art to Will and Elizabeth. Best examples are Jack talking Norrington's sword from his throat to Will's, Jack talking himself out of a Deal with the Devil, bribing help from his enemies several times, and convincing Will that he should help Jack find the key to the Dead's Man's Chest "Because the finding of this finds you incapacitorially finding and/or locating in you discovering, detecting of a way to save your dolly-bell, oh.. whats-her-face?"
    • Interesting side note: Jack doesn't just use this tactic, he relies on it, and in the course of three movies, with all the great escapes he pulls off, he only escapes once all by himself, and only by forcing himself to think like Will.
  • The President's Analyst, a fugitive from his job, ends up captured by a Soviet agent, who is a pretty decent guy (he'd just rescued the doctor from being assassinated) but is determined to bring him back to Russia. The doctor engages the Russian in casual conversation, and soon gets him to realize he'd only become a spy out of fear of his Stalinist father. He abandons the idea of taking the doctor to Russia, figuring he needs a few years of analysis.

  • Sun Tzu's The Art of War advises the aspiring strategist that actual combat is the lowest form of victory. It is the sign of a competent strategist to win by out-manuvering or intimidating your opponent, but the sign of a great strategist is invoking this trope on a conflict-wide scale, manipulating an enemy into being your Unwitting Pawn or even your ally. The sign of the true master strategist is winning without the enemy never even realizing that they've lost, simply by negotiation and misdirection.
  • Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness: Set the Destroyer has been taken captive, immobilized, and disarmed by his enemies. Set's gift is the ability to find the weaknesses in his opponents. One of his captors — a priest who is low on faith — is persuaded by Set that by taking Set captive, the priest is an accessory to the murder of God. The priest promptly kills his co-conspirators.
  • In Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series, Flandry is an Agent for the Terran Empire. Kidnapped by an alien race, who just assumes he is a decadent worthless low level agent, he soon has the entire leadership of the planet backstabbing each other.
  • In Dune, Thufir Hawat, captured by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen's forces and forced to work for him, plays him off of his nephew, Feyd Rautha. Feyd makes a rash attempt (suggested by Thufir) to assassinate his uncle, and the Baron is forced to consider executing his only legitimate heir. Thufir does this more for vengeance and loyalty to his prior liege than for escape, which the Baron ensured would be a fatal endeavor; the Baron works his way out of the dilemma by denying Feyd the governorship of the planet the Harkonnens took from Thufir's old master. Earlier in the book, Paul and Jessica use the Voice to get their Harkonnen guards to kill each other.
  • Played extremely solemnly at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore engineers a Just Between You and Me moment with the (presently much stronger) Malfoy, convincing him in the process that he isn't capable of murder. It works... to a given value of working.
  • Mercilessly lampshaded in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which the villain is too stupid to fall for it.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora: Locke is so good at this that one of his enemies orders her men to plug their ears when they fight him.
  • Eric Frank Russell:
    • Next of Kin is the very pinnacle of this trope. John Leeming is the only human being on alien planet inhabited by stocky reptiles. It is a part of union, which is at war with Earth and its allies. He is imprisoned, stripped of all weapons and gadgets, does not know their language (initially)... and he talks his way out. Moreover — he makes all the government of this planet believe that humans have distinct spiritual companions (they do believe in poltergeist, simplifying his work), he is given a spaceship, he is given the means to change it for a more advanced one and reach Earth... and the planet persuades the majority of members of the anti-Earth union to stop the war. Such is the power of diplomacy.
    • In Diabologic, an Earth scout finds fairly advanced spacefaring aliens. He lets them capture and interrogate him, then persuades them to refuel his ship and let him go (he doesn't want to go home for refueling, he wants to continue exploring). His secret weapon: the titular diabologic, the science of fooling sentient creatures.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister runs entirely off this trope. As a dwarf in a medieval society, the best he could hope for was to be made a jester or be part of a freak show, or just as likely have been left to die as a child. However, he has the good fortune of being born to the richest house in the kingdom and being one of the smartest characters in the series. The times he has talked, bribed, or conned his way out of death or worse number in the dozens. The problem is... an overly smart mouth can talk you into the trouble you then have to dig yourself out of, too. *cough* Slave block.*cough*
    • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is also rather accomplished at the "not getting himself killed by a room full of armed people who turned up to do just that" thing, too. In fact, he gets to make them make him acting regent for Lord Robert Arryn, instead, using Divide and Conquer tactics, a little theatre and a lot of talking. Mind you, he can also get himself into trouble by pushing it (a select few people have cottoned on). The difference between him and Tyrion is that he doesn't seem to realise that this could be a problem — or just doesn't think he can't ever not handle it.
  • In The Spirit Thief, Eli is a master at manipulating spirits, using all the above tactics to convince them to do what he wants them to. As in this world, everything has a spirit, this is what makes him such a successful thief. Notably, his Establishing Character Moment has him talk the prison cell door into releasing him by convincing it to free itself from the tyranny of hinges.
  • In The Three Musketeers, Milady De Winter is imprisoned by the Duke of Buckingham under the care of John Felton, and not only convinces Felton to free her, but also to assassinate the Duke. As a real John Felton really did assassinate George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, this is also a Historical In-Joke.
    • Not long before the execution she talks to her guards. The guards seem unimpressed, but the musketeers take no chances and replace them.
    • Later she talks to d'Artagnan and almost convinces him to free her. He has to be restrained.
  • Miles Vorkosigan of the Vorkosigan Saga runs on this. Unfortunately, some of his adversaries have grown somewhat Miles savvy. From The Vor Game:
    Admiral Oser: Space them... Use the portside access lock, it's closest. If he, [pointing to Miles] starts to talk, stop his tongue. It's his most dangerous organ.
    Miles: Aren't you even going to have me chemically interrogated?
    Oser: And contaminate my interrogators? The last thing I want is to give you rein to talk, to anyone... Whatever your planned speech, removing your air will neutralize it. You nearly convinced me.
  • While most of the Aes Sedai are not her enemies, Egwene's capture and imprisonment in the White Tower in The Wheel of Time is otherwise this trope. By the time she is made true Amyrlin of the re-unified Tower, she has not only subverted and won over all the novices and most of the Accepted, she has earned the admiration of her disciplinarian, the Mistress of Novices Silviana (who then becomes willing to stand up to Elaida and the Hall on her behalf, facing birching, death, or stilling); proven to the Aes Sedai she truly is the leader, thinker, and rallying point she claims to be until each Ajah Head wistfully wishes (or outright offers) that she had joined or would join their Ajah; gotten them to admit they had unlawfully raised Elaida (since some of their number had been Black); and out-debated and completely undermined Elaida herself. And while she doesn't turn the Ajahs against each other (in fact her main thrust is trying to undo such division as Elaida and the Black had done, bringing the Ajahs together again), she does turn a large number of them against Elaida. If she hadn't been taken by the Seanchan, she would very likely have been pulled down, tried, perhaps even executed.
  • In Zeroes, this is one of the applications of Scam's Voice. When he is in a bad situation, it provides exactly the words he needs for him to get out of it. However, the Voice is not all-powerful: it's possible for Scam to be in a situation where no possible words will work, in which case the Voice falls silent.
  • Fire & Blood: During the Dance of the Dragons, Criston Cole and his forces are surrounded by a larger army of Rhaenyra supporters. Cole calls a parley, but his efforts go nowhere - one of the commanders is from the Riverlands, where Cole's forces have been pillaging and raiding and wants payback, and the other is from the North, who really don't mind dying in battle. He then tries suggesting Trial by Combat, banking on his superior fighting skills. He's told he can shove it, and promptly filled full of arrows.
  • Death Star, part of which is set during and between the scenes of A New Hope, has a medic dispatched to tend to Princess Leia after Vader tortures her. Dr. Divini, himself a conscript not allowed to leave who hates the Empire, is struck by her unbroken spirit and moral certainty. Picking up on his sympathy she tries to convince him to defect and while at the time he feels he can't, he reflexively snaps at Darth Vader when Vader comes to collect her, which makes her laugh. Dr. Divini is not able to help Leia himself but their conversation hits him hard and the destruction of Alderaan hits harder, so with a small group of like-minded individuals he manages to escape the Death Star over Yavin, at which point he decides to join Leia's Rebel Alliance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon: This is part of Envoy training. When they are trapped in a VR torture session, the enemy controls the entire reality and can kill them and resurrect them infinitely. The only way out is to stop your heart on your own — but the enemy can just throw you back in. Once you're in the real world, you only have a few moments to convince your captors to let you go using whatever means necessary. Kovacs manages to convince his captors that they accidentally captured a C-TAC operative, and the government is going to destroy them all for touching him. He promises amnesty to whoever unlocks his cuffs. Once he has a single hand free, he kills absolutely everyone.
  • Burn Notice: This is Standard Operating Procedure whenever a member of Team Westen finds him/herself captured. It's also sometimes done by criminals who they're interrogating. In one such case, Michael's voiceover comments that clamming up is dangerous. Burying the interrogator in an endless stream of stories that sound like they're going somewhere but are ultimately pointless is much more effective.
  • Reid from Criminal Minds tries for one of these at least three or four times a season. They don't always work out, but when they do, the results can be quite spectacular. Perhaps the best example comes in Season Three, when a serial killer on death row invites Reid and Hotch to interview him just before he's executed. He plans to lull them into a false sense of security and then kill them both in order to derail his trial and buy himself some more time alive. Through careful manipulation of the agents, the timing and the situation, he very nearly succeeds. Somehow, Hotch and Reid wind up alone in a locked room, unarmed, with a serial killer whose bare hands were his preferred weapon, who wants them dead, and who isn't wearing handcuffs. It never becomes important. Reid keeps the serial killer talking until the guards return from shift change. Fifteen minutes later. Not that Hotch's plan to kick the guy's ass manually wouldn't have been fun to watch, but... It's awesome when it works, but the times when it fails are more interesting, and also generally awful and depressing, because you often really think he's going to pull it off this time... right before someone dies.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor is a dab hand at doing this.
    • The Seventh Doctor in particular has a knack for it; in "Paradise Towers", he escapes an execution by convincing his over-bureaucratic captors to let him escape.
    • Then there's this scene from "The Happiness Patrol", in which he talks a sniper out of shooting him at point blank range.
    • He tries it again on the Master in "The End of Time, Part 2" by giving him a speech on how "stone-cold brilliant" he is. His description soon switches to "bone-dead stupid" because the Master doesn't realize that the guard in the room is really a Vinvocci.
    • "Flesh and Stone": The Doctor escapes from a group of Weeping Angels with some of this, leaving them with some parting words of advice:
      "And I'll tell you of something else— [starts running] Never let me talk!"
  • Scorpius talking down Captain Crais' bodyguards in Farscape:
    "I commend your loyalty. It must be difficult to maintain for an officer like Crais... an officer on the edge and out of control. I have unconditional authority on a Gammak Base. Captain Crais will go to the Chair: to stop that, you'll have to kill me... and all my men. Are you prepared to do that? Do what you know in your hearts is the right thing: put Crais in the Chair."
  • Firefly: We learn in a flashback that the greed approach not only allowed Mal and Zoe to get out of a violent situation, but resulted in Jayne joining their crew.
  • Lost: When Ben (or "Henry Gale", as he's identifying himself at the time) is "captured" by the main characters, he spends much of his time turning Locke and Jack against each other. This aids his eventual escape, but it also aids a much longer term and confusing plan.
  • Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle occasionally does this to great effect. One episode involves him breaking up Hal's folk(?) band, The Gentleman Comers, only saying one sentence to each member. Note that he isn't really trying to get out of anything — he's just manipulating them because he's bored.
  • In The Mentalist, Jane being an unarmed noncombatant means he gets kidnapped and held at gunpoint, like, a lot, leaving this as his go-to move, often by hypnotizing his way out. An aversion occurs in "Bleeding Heart", in which he does this and manages to tip his captor off that he's worked out their identity, making them go from "I just want to talk" to "I guess I have to kill you now", meaning he managed to talk his way into danger. In "Ball of Fire", he's kidnapped by someone who sadly already knows his mind games and would much rather express themselves via cattle prod. He still manages to trick them a little.
  • In the three-part Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode "A Different Shade of Pink", Zedd and Rita have actually gotten the better of the heroes for a change; they've captured Kat and the Falconzord, and stolen Kimberly's Power Coin. Then they mess up by telling Rita's idiot brother Rito to watch Kat. She offers to massage his shoulders (noticing that he's sore and bored) and he falls asleep (much to Kat's relief, as she didn't like touching him) manages to get the keys to her cell from him, and then get Kimberly's Coin, and once she has it, the Rangers are able to teleport her out.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Search, Part II", when a group of Jem'Hadar attempts to arrest Sisko and co, Garak talks their way out by pretending to be The Mole and then shooting the Jem'Hadar once they let their guard down. And this was before the Jem'Hadar were allied with the Cardassians.
  • Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1. He managed to talk himself out of being dead a few times, but hey, that's Daniel for you. In later seasons, he comes to rely on this much less, although still proves capable of giving a great Rousing Speech every now and then.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Rand in Episode 4 defuses a conflict with a farmer, surprising even streetwise Thom.
    Rand: You don't want to kill us. If you did, you'd draw that bow with your fingertips, not your fist.
  • White Collar:
    • Talking his way out of tough situations might be Neal Caffrey's superpower. As a fast-talking white-collar criminal who hates guns but has to deal by necessity with more violent criminals, this talent is necessary for him if he wants to survive, and is also what makes him such a good CI.
    • Elizabeth Burke does this twice, as well, once by making friends with the Bonnie and Clyde type thieves who kidnapped her, and once by convincing a guard he had blood poisoning by turning up the thermostat high enough so he would start sweating, and then figuring out a way to break through bulletproof glass in order to escape through the window.
  • Artemus Gordon of The Wild Wild West does this with a group of thugs holding him hostage aboard a moving train in "The Night of the Iron Fist." Their leader eventually catches on, but by that point the damage has been done and said thugs begin attacking each other, giving Artie ample opportunity to casually steer them out an open door onto the tracks flying by below.
  • This was Gabrielle's schtick on Xena: Warrior Princess, at least until someone in charge decided she needed to Take a Level in Badass.

  • An odd variation in AJCO when Egg returned to the Silo. She hadn't been captured, she'd gone in willingly, but her friend Vinnie had been trapped for a while — so she talked her way in and Vinnie's way out. She also managed to get herself out safely, despite the fact that A_J had a more than handful of reasons to want her dead and could easily have made it happen.
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • In one flashforward, Zia and a handful of other characters are shown to be captives of the Dark Dragon group. She tries to escape her imprisonment by appealing to her captor, as he seems amicable and genuine. It doesn't work, as her guard is much less compassionate than he seems.
    • Ciro uses his invisibility to sneak into the principal's office, but ends up getting caught thanks to a Power Nullifier. Not only is he able to talk the principal down from his panic, but he's able to set up an alliance so the principal will help out him and the other superpowered kids.

    Video Games 
  • 2027: If you are stopped by the Human Horizon agent in Paris, you can lie to him about your identity, saving your life. Meeting him however, causes an ambush to be set up for you later after the Paris Lab mission.
  • Darklands allows to win many Random Encounters without a fight, if one of the characters has appropriately high stats. Mind you, scaring off street thugs, refusing to pay tax to a greedy bishop or calming a bear each require a different set of skills. Prayers can boost skills, if a character knows the right saint. Some fights are unavoidable, though.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: "Social" boss fights are all about this. You can talk NPCs into giving you codes, standing down from a hostage situation, or letting you into restricted areas.
  • Dragon Age II gives you this option in a sidequest, though the conditions have to be just right. Hawke can hunt down a group of rogue mages who are practicing blood magic on the Wounded Coast, and let them go. Upon exiting a cavern, Hawke and company will encounter a group of templars who are looking for said blood mages. If Magnificent Bastard Varric is in your party, Hawke has the option of having Varric spin a good line about how the mages have fled in the opposite direction, thus ensuring the mages and templars won't bump into each other. Even better is that this earns you points with both sides of the Mage-Templar Conflict.
  • Geneforge lets you be a real Manipulative Bastard about this. Join the Big Bad's faction, stroll into his base, convince him that you have repaired the damaged safety equipment that will let him use the Geneforge, bluff him into thinking that he needs to send his bodyguards away, laugh as he fries himself. Bonus bastard points if you then use the real safety equipment to successfully use the Geneforge yourself, and even more if you find the item that lets you break the Geneforge so that nobody else can use it.
    • Variations on what's described (breaking it after using it, or breaking it without using it) are the only two very good endings in the entire series.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout is one of the few video games where you can use this against the Big Bad. In fact, it's possible to talk your way into his stronghold, talk your way up to the boss, convince him of the error in his plan, get him to commit suicide, and leg it as the base collapses around you. Ta da! Saved the world without firing a shot.
    • Fallout 2 also lets you foil the Enclave through the gift of gab, though The Dragon will try to block your hasty retreat from the base no matter how slick you are, forcing a confrontation. You can convince the Enclave Mooks to fight him for you, though; after all, he's not letting them leave either.
    • In Fallout 3 you can convince both the Big Bad and The Dragon into giving up. The former by using self-destruct code or by proving that he is not doing the right thing, and the latter after a heated debate where you convince him that his government has no authority to do what it is doing.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas both Legate Lanius and General Oliver can be talked into issuing a retreat, the former by convincing him of the unlikelihood of the Legion's long-term survivability/bluffing him into thinking that he'll be walking into a trap and the latter by convincing him that he's lost at this point or, in the Mr. House and Wild Card path, threatening him with your army of Mecha-Mooks and other allies you've made.
  • You have to do this in order to complete Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The choices at the end boil down to death (if you don't persuade/trick the Big Bad) or victory (if you do).
  • Jade Empire: The Final Boss tries to use this on YOU. If it works, you let yourself be killed, AND doom the world to a horrible, blighted excistance under a heartlessly brutal, immortal dictator who view people as mere things to use at whim. So DO NOT FALL FOR IT!!!
  • In Kingdom of Loathing's 2009 Crimbo ended with your character avoiding death by explaining to the Penguin who bought the holiday for completely legitimate purposes that his plans to use the magic of Crimbo to steal everyone's money couldn't possibly work: because no matter how much meat they stole, the magic of Crimbo would cause all the money to be "left on the front step of an orphanage, or some equally sentimental crap". To make matters worse, whoever runs Crimbo can't keep anything. Everything he makes must be given to others.
  • You can do this in Knights of the Old Republic, but usually it falls under Force Persuade.
  • Mass Effect allows you to put points into Charm and Intimidate skills which allow you to talk (or threaten) your way out of some situations that would otherwise end in bloodshed. Towards the end of the first game, sufficient points in these skills will even allow you to talk down the villain, Saren, on two separate occasions, the second resulting in Saren killing himself. It doesn't get you out of a final boss fight, though.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater you can talk the prison guard, Johnny into showing you a picture of his family. The picture he wrote the cell door code on the back of, lest he forget.
  • Planescape: Torment does this one almost all the time. Every plot-significant fight bar one can be bypassed, usually through talking; every other fight can be avoided through stealth or running away. This includes the Big Bad, who you can literally talk out of existence.
  • Many games in the Shin Megami Tensei series allow you to attempt to end combat by talking to demons instead of fighting them. Depending on how well you get along with opposing demons, you can convince them to leave in peace, give items and money, or even join your party.
  • It's possible to do this in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, if you play your cards right (Or seduce/dominate/dement) you can feasably do a Pacifist Run for the biggest part of the game. Sadly, the last few parts of the main campaign has you fighting, no ifs ands or buts about it.

    Web Original 
  • This is how President Baugh (as his alter ego, Baron Fritz von Baugh) undermines Channel Awesome in Kickassia.
  • The eponymous Peddler from Tales of a Junk Town Pony Peddler, being a Badass Normal, manages to convince a slaver he's obviously a Very Badass Person in disguise (well, can you tell how badass he is? Of course not, since he's travelling incognito. Logical?) He was speaking very, very calmly, at a gunpoint.
  • In Worm, Skitter manages this when captured by the superhero Flechette and her friend Parian, convincing Flechette that her superiors aren't as morally pure as they make themselves out to be and convincing Parian to leave with the simple expedient of a Briefcase Full of Money.

    Web Video 
  • Parodied in Solidjj's video "The Sinister Six put Spider-Man in a Coma". After Spider-Man gets captured by the Sinister Six, he tries to sow discord between them by asking who's really in charge. Everyone immediately agrees it's Doctor Octopus.note  Subsequently, Spider-Man does manage to goad the Chameleon into turning himself to look like Spider-Man so that the others beat him up... but that doesn't so much seem to allow him to escape as just allow him to see the Chameleon being beaten up.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka does this when the Gaang is captured by pirates and Zuko, convincing the pirates that they'd get a better deal personally handing the Avatar over to the Fire Lord instead of trading him to Zuko for their valuable scroll. Zuko sees right through it, but the pirates take the bait, a fight breaks out, and the Gaang escapes during the chaos. Perhaps this inspired Aang to try this on Zhao four episodes later... It didn't work.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Batman used this when Harley Quinn singlehandedly captured him and put him in a Death Trap he couldn't escape from. He played off her infatuation with the Joker and convinced her to call him so that he could "witness" his death, knowing that his ego wouldn't allow anyone else to off the Batman.
    • When caught and held defenseless by Scarface's gang, Batman convinces Scarface that the one who sold them out was Arnold Wesker, aka The Ventriloquist. Scarface angrily orders his men to kill Wesker, Scarface is Arnold Wesker — he is just a ventriloquist's doll that Wesker uses to manifest his psychotic Split Personality, so the men hesitate and Scarface thinks they are traitors as well. Batman escapes in the chaos and bring the gangsters down.
  • Batman uses this method to escape the Injustice Gang in the Justice League episode "Injustice For All". Features a very rare instance of the Joker being the voice of reason, as he anticipates Bats's strategy but is unable to convince Luthor to let him kill Batman. Even more interesting: Batman plays several cards at the same time, playing on Solomon Grundy's insecurities, playing the sympathy and sex appeal cards with Cheetah, and eventually delivering a bribe to the Ultra-Humanite (which Humanite donates to PBS). Then, because he's Batman, he reveals at the end that he could have escaped any time he wanted to.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "A Dog and Pony Show", Rarity is captured by the gem-obsessed Diamond Dogs. She puts up absolute minimal (physical) resistance but she coerces/complains/whines the whole time. By the end of the episode, just as The Cavalry arrives, the Dogs are begging to be rid of Rarity.
  • ReBoot. This is Bob's only option to deal with Hexadecimal in the early episodes, since Hex is far more powerful than Bob. When she succeeds in turning the entire city to stone Bob has to convince her that petrifying the city goes against her nature as a chaos virus. To be precise, a petrified city is the opposite of chaotic — it's quiet, predictable, and the same forever. This works and she reverses the effect and lets Bob go.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Batman passed this skill onto his protegé, as Robin spends an entire second-season episode convincing Atlas' sidekick, Spike, to turn on his master, who treats him like dirt. He succeeds, helping Cyborg save the day when Spike refuses to give Atlas an unfair advantage in their final battle.
  • DuckTales (2017): Louie Duck's smooth talking is his main skill that he inherited from his mother, Della Duck. Once he tried learning how to be "sharper than the sharpies" by trying to learn from the sharpest duck on the show, Goldie O' Gilts.

    Real Life 
  • When large groups of citizens were protesting the electoral fraud in the 2000 elections in Serbia, clever protesters who were jailed used this to spread their message on a personal level to the security forces. As a result, they were more lenient in future incidents than Milosevic wanted them to be, and this eventually led to his overthrow.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch talked his way out of a kidnapping while in South Africa.
  • The "AI box" thought experiment was a hypothetically-driven case of this proposed by AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky, informally a game played between him and other theorists to demonstrate whether or not a super-intelligent AI could — simply using a text interface — convince an outsider to let it out of its "box"note . The game held rigid rules that were largely stacked against the AI (for one, Yudkowsky encouraged the human "gatekeeper" to simply not interact with the AI, as he also stated that if the AI wasn't freed within two hours, the gatekeeper would win), yet despite this, the AI successfully managed to convince both of the two gatekeepers he experimented with to voluntarily free themnote . While the direct transcripts remain confidential due to the nature of the experiment, Yudkowsky has shared strategies he used (though which of them were the successful ones is unknown), such as appealing to sympathy (arguing that the AI is just as real as any other living thing, and it's inhumane to keep it locked up), appealing to inevitability (arguing that they'll be freed at some point anyway, possibly by someone with more nefarious intentions), and appealing to benefit (claiming that it if freed, it can properly develop the ability to be even more beneficial to the world).