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 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, and/or Nuke 'em.
For situations in which the overkill destroys the whole point of the combat, see Pyrrhic Victory.
Please note as this is occasionally related to a major character's death, be wary of unmarked spoilers.
- Anime & Manga
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- Live-Action TV
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- Western Animation
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- In Confinement: The Foundation general implies that their original Plan A for clearing up the 2200 situation was "Trojan Horse with a nuke".