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 a lot, in the head, blown them up, unleashed the hounds on them, electrocuted them, irradiated them, jumped up and down on them, and then shot 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, or wishes to express dislike for the target, or (usually due to fighting The Juggernaut or an Implacable Man) know that It's the Only Way to Be Sure. 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.
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 situations in which the overkill destroys the whole point of the combat, see Pyrrhic Victory.
Compare Chunky Salsa Rule, Critical Existence Failure, No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Deader Than Dead, Disproportionate Retribution, Rasputinian Death, Refuge in Audacity, Surplus Damage Bonus and Videogame Cruelty Potential.
Please note as this is occasionally related to a major character's death, be wary of unmarked spoilers.
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- Real Life
- 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 to give Gru the prize after that.
- 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.
- 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 flaes 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!!!
- 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.
- 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.