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There Is No Kill Like Overkill

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Maxim #37: There is no "overkill". There is only "open fire" and "I need to reload."
Schlock Mercenary, "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries"

There are some opponents you want to defeat. There are some opponents you want to kill. Then there are the opponents whom you're not satisfied with until you've stabbed them in the back, shot them in the head, blown them up, unleashed the hounds on them, electrocuted them, jumped up and down on them, and then shoot the remains into space on a rocket full of time bombs heading towards the sun.

This trope comes in three categories (with some overlap): the killer either loves violence for its own sake, really, really HATES whoever they're doing this to, or (usually due to fighting The Juggernaut or an Implacable Man) knows that It's the Only Way to Be Sure whoever they're doing this to won't be coming back. There Is No Kill Like Overkill may be played for comedy or for drama. If the former, another character may remark "I think he's dead already" near the end of the process.

May be employed successfully: see No One Could Survive That!. Unfortunately often leads to Never Found the Body, thus setting up Only Mostly Dead or Unexplained Recovery. Joker Immunity means even overkill is useless, but even that is better than a No-Sell.

It is sometimes justified if the opponent can come back From a Single Cell, or if resurrection is possible in the setting but requires the body to be mostly intact (in which case enough overkill to demolish the corpse serves the useful function of rendering the target Deader than Dead).

Much, much more common in fiction (especially of the 'revenge fantasy' type) than in Real Life violence. To a strategist, overkill is Awesome, but Impractical because the risk of enemy survival is vastly outweighed by the certainty that you're spending a fortune in time, material, and (usually) manpower to ensure the enemy's death. The weaker and less numerous the target, the more wasteful overkill is.

For common ways to overkill, see Beam Spam, Wave-Motion Gun, Megaton Punch, Gatling Good, Boom, Headshot!, Your Head Asplode, Grenade Spam, Multiple Gunshot Death, Macross Missile Massacre, No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Stuff Blowing Up, Home-Run Hitter, More Dakka, Multi-Directional Barrage, BFS, BFG, Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, Pummeling the Corpse, and/or Nuke 'em. Said methods are almost always more overkill with a Critical Hit.

For situations in which the overkill destroys the whole point of the combat, see Pyrrhic Victory.

Compare Chunky Salsa Rule, Critical Existence Failure, Deader than Dead, Disproportionate Retribution, Rasputinian Death, Refuge in Audacity, Surplus Damage Bonus, and Video Game Cruelty Potential.

Contrast Cherry Tapping and Once is Not Enough. Characters who don't have enough overkill at their disposal just might resort to crossing the Godzilla Threshold instead. If it's an animal, it's often a Black Comedy Pet Death.

This is occasionally related to a major character's death, so beware of unmarked spoilers!

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    Films — Animated 
  • Despicable Me: At urging, Gru enters the girls he adopted at a shooting gallery, and discovers the main target actually can't be knocked down with the guns provided. Regardless of how much he actually cared about the girls at this point, Gru clearly isn't happy that he got cheated, so his solution? He has a go, and uses a ray gun to level the whole stand. The man who cheated them decides it's in his best interest to give Gru the prize after that.
  • Yzma's initial plan to kill Kuzco in The Emperor's New Groove is to turn him into a flea, a harmless little flea, then put him inside a box, put that box inside another box, mail it to herself, and then smash it with a hammer. The plan was rejected in favor of immediate poisoning to save on postage.
  • In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan tries to dispose of Basil with an overkill-tastic Death Trap including a mousetrap, a crossbow, an axe, a gun (given that the characters are mice, it's more like a cannon), and a falling anvil, noting that he couldn't decide which method would be best... so he used them all. Of course, Basil is able to use the various parts of the trap against each other and escape.
  • Isle of Dogs: While eating sushi, Professor Watanabe suspects that something's wrong with a bit of the sushi (it's got poison laced on the top) and takes a very small lick of it. The poison kills him almost immediately, having been said to stop the heart of a whale.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: If getting crushed by his own cannon didn't do Lord Shen in, then said cannon subsequently blowing him to bits when it explodes more than likely did the trick.
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge: Scorpion has spent the entire movie thinking that Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei slaughtered his clan and his family, and sought nothing but bloody retribution. It's only after he kills Sub-Zero that he learns the massacre was orchestrated by Quan Chi, after which he makes a beeline for him and challenges him to a fight as Shang Tsung's palace begins to crumble. After a brutal fight, Scorpion seizes an opening to deliver the mother of all beatdowns on Quan Chi, before summarily breaking his ribs, ripping his arms off, piercing his torso with his kunai (through the spine, even), dragging his ass closer ("GET OVER HERE!"), grabbing his throat, ripping his head off and finishing him off by incinerating his mutilated corpse with hellfire ("Toasty!"), before tossing Quan Chi's head and spine over the burning remains. Extreme Mêlée Revenge? Yes. Did Quan Chi deserve every second of it? Oh, yes.
  • In Mulan, the villain Shan Yu charges his entire army against what is about 30 or 40 soldiers. Naturally, the Conservation of Ninjutsu wasn't on his side, largely because the titular character deliberately sets off an avalanche to swallow up the entire army.
  • Ratatouille: In the opening, Mabel uses a shotgun against rats.
  • Shark Tale: When Oscar wages (and loses) the $ 5,000 he needed to pay a debt he owes Sykes, Sykes tells Ernie and Bernie to find the deepest hole in the ocean, dig it deeper, and then bury Oscar there.
  • In the first ever animated Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the evil queen is struck by lightning (well, really it strikes the cliff she's standing on). She falls over the cliff, and the boulder rolls off after her. What's left of her is presumably scavenged by vultures afterwards.


  • In the Cool Kids Table game Star War, Kip opts to fire at Palpatine with his gun set to ion cannon mode, which Alan points out is designed for attacking starships. He manages to destroy him, and most of the castle he was in, and anything past that for a few miles.
  • Played for Laughs in A Very Fatal Murder, which investigates the death of Hayley Price, who was "shot, stabbed, drowned, strangled, and given a haircut."
  • Sick Sad World: It’s noted how much energy it takes to stab a person once, and one killer decided to stab a victim ninety-four times.

  • From Sister Act, this song. To put it in comparison, the man singing killed a mole (aka a spy) by a single gunshot (which his girl saw). For that former mistress, he wants to drill, shoot, stab, drown, disembowel, or "give her skull a big dent with a blunt instrument." All while dancing to disco/jazz and having his henchmen sing backup.
  • Chicago has "Then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times."
  • In A Very Potter Senior Year, Voldemort has a particularly gruesome sendoff, though it's Played for Laughs. It's made even funnier by the fact that Voldemort mimes the whole thing:
    Narrator: Harry lifts up the Sword Gryffindor and stabs the diary. Blood begins to spurt from the diary as Voldemort convulses. Voldemort's chest explodes, a blinding white light shines out. Pieces of Voldemort's body begin to break off as he desperately wails. His face flies away, revealing a grotesque screaming skull. Soon all his skin ignites into flames. His burning skeleton crumbles into a mess of gore and green goo. JOE WALKER DIES!!!

    Web Animation 
  • NCHProductions uses this twice in "MHRise Shots: Magnamalo, Wizard of Malice":
    • The eponymous monster gets rushed by a hunter riding a Mizutsune, an angry Rathian, a hunter with a Blastoad, and a hunter juiced up by Spiribirds all at once, causing a tremendous explosion.
    • In the outtakes, the Magnamalo is toppled by its own "booger fire" after a Great Sword Hunter uses his Wirebug to remove it; Magnamalo is then pummeled by the mounted Mizutsune, the angry Rathian, and three other Hunters while the Palamutes dance in front of it.
  • Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction:
    • After he's already killed Agent South, Agent Washington goes on to dispose of the body by shooting at it, incinerating it, and detonating a bunch of exploding crates next to it. This is apparently standard procedure... Not to mention that Wash really hated her for shooting him and leaving him for dead.
    • In order to explain away not having an Agent Florida, Councilor blows up the entire physical state of Florida. Yeah.
  • DSBT InsaniT:
    • In VRcade, Cody defeats his (headless) Darkness counterpart by smashing a potion of Hollywood Acid into the hole in his neck, followed by a harpoon. Then he tricks a baby White Killer Eel to slither into the hole in Darkness Cody's neck, which causes him to dissolve.
    • In the same episode, Dave defeats his Darkness counterpart by pushing him through a grate until all of his body parts are severed.
  • In Confinement: The Foundation general implies that their original Plan A for clearing up the 2200 situation was "Trojan Horse with a nuke".
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) Matt gets shot up, hit by a barrage of missiles, and NUKED.
  • In the last episode of Astartes, the veteran Retributors kill the Inquisitorial agent when it looks like he's getting possessed by the alien orbs he's been interacting with. They do this by punching his head off and perforating the remains with a bolter.
  • RWBY: Cordovin's reaction to Teams RWBY and JNR stealing an airship to get into Atlas (and Maria mocking her authority over the radio) is to pilot a Humongous Mecha against them with the intent of displaying her superiority to both the protagonists and all of Argus, unleashing a Wave-Motion Gun capable of blowing up mountains in an attempt to shoot them out of the sky. This bites her in the ass when the fear and negativity stirred up in town by her attack ends up attracting a Leviathan Grimm to the city.

Alternative Title(s): No Kill Like Overkill, There Is No Kill Like An Overkill, Theres No Kill Like Overkill


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Thus began the saga of the universe hating Waspinator.

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