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Violence is the Only Option

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"I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence."
Malcolm X, Speech to Peace Corps Workers December 12, 1964

Fights are dramatic. There's no question about that. That's why most action-based series will inevitably end with a fight. After all, what fun is it if The Hero and the Big Bad resolve their differences with an armistice, a few kind words and a handshake? Even the most idealistic of All Loving Heroes will have to beat the evil out of them first before they can Save the Villain.

For that very reason, whenever the heroes try to resolve their situation through diplomatic or other peaceful means, things will inevitably go wrong. Either it's a trick by the villains to lure the heroes into an ambush in a vulnerable position, or negotiations will break down and make violence the only option. Even if by some miracle peace is achieved, it's only because an even more evil threat forces both sides to ally against it.

Despite the Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, this can lead to the Hard Truth Aesop that Violence Really Is the Answer.

In Video Games, this often becomes Stupidity Is the Only Option as the villain goes "Oh, let's try diplomacy, why don't you come to the heart of our kingdom surrounded by our armed guards and we'll talk! Be sure not to bring weapons." This trope also frequently overlaps with Action-Based Mission.

In most Tabletop RPGs, players can use diplomacy skills, though this is subject to DM fiat. The DM may still fudge the rolls or veto the outcome if he wants a certain situation to end in violence. Sometimes some factions can't even be negotiated with.

Contrast To Win Without Fighting, Talking the Monster to Death, and No-Harm Requirement, and compare Sedgwick Speech, RPGs Equal Combat. A character forced into this trope may be a Reluctant Warrior. Not to be confused with Murder Is the Best Solution, where violence is the first resort, without considering other options.

Sheathe Your Sword is the polar opposite of this trope—non-violence is the only option.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Most Shonen Jump manga have this as the only real and sensible option to most every problem. Bonus points if the hero tries to talk the villain over before resorting to ass-kicking.
  • Acid Town provides an example of violence properly applied being the best solution in the circumstances. The only problem being that it wasn't, due to the Technical Pacifist holding the Idiot Ball Yuki failed to kill the man that raped him and sold him into being a Sex Slave both times, as well as his associate/False Friend who wanted him for himself. If he had just taken the loaded gun he was offered and shot both Ashiei and Wang, he would have avenged his rape and years as a slave, saved himself from being raped again, and singlehandedly ended a brewing Mob War.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • For Nanoha the solution to any problem is to blast whatever-it-is in the face with powerful magic attacks. Want to bring your opponent to the light? Trounce her and make friends! Trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine? Manifest a huge beam sword and blow the illusion away! Need to save someone who's possessed by an evil book? Go all out and it'll work itself out. Then blow up the book. Is your adoptive daughter magically powered up, desperately confused, and on a rampage? Eh, blast her. Your weapon can't kill anyone anyway. This is actually Nanoha's way of achieving a peaceful solution: Try to talk it out, and if they refuse, blow the hell out of the enemy so they're in no condition to do anything but talk it out.
    • This trope is subverted because violence is actually Nanoha's final solution to the antagonists during the first two seasons. She tries to talk to them and find out why they are doing the things they are doing, and would offer a compromise if only they'd talk to her. It's just that the antagonists are not interested in a discussion, so Nanoha has to subdue them first. The third season, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS plays it straight during the final battle, when everyone and everything from the antagonists' side that stood between Nanoha and her brainwashed adopted daughter Vivio got obliterated and also because there was no other way to undo the mind control.
  • In Angel Densetsu, while the protagonist is a bit scary, he's an All-Loving Hero. In contrast the two normal-looking, cute girls that got a crush on him deal with more or less anything via high kicks to the face. Lampshaded when Yuji tries to get Kitano out of trouble by the only way he knows how: beating people up (in that case, the trope was averted, finesse was actually needed). And again when Leo makes a mess and forces Kitano and Ikuno to fight, right until the end the trope seemed averted, but then it actually works and it's played straight.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Negi really does do his best to talk all his opponents down first. Even the demon lord who turned his village to stone. The two most notable, however, are Chao and Fate. One is the Big Bad. The other is suspected to have refused to talk it out or reveal their motives in order to prepare Negi for the other, who despite his anti villainy of later chapters is rather quiet about how 'destroy the world' and 'save the world' fit onto the same schedule properly.
  • Freezing: Satellizer doesn't really care about morals or insubordination. Her response to arrogant upperclassmen and pandoras is to simply beat the crap out of them, especially if they mess with her limiter. It's explained that she has a psychological need to fight, due to some issues.
  • Deconstructed in the first season of Gundam 00 where the Celestial Being seems to embrace this trope since they realized that the endless conflicts throughout the history needs to be forcibly eradicated with their own weapons.
  • Dragon Ball Super: During the Future Trunks Saga, Gowasu goes to Future Trunks' timeline to try to reason with Goku Black and Future Zamasu and give them a Last-Second Chance to redeem themselves by using the Super Dragon Balls to fix the damage they've done. Instead, Goku Black and Future Zamasu, after revealing that they destroyed the Super Dragon Balls once they had their own wishes granted, try to blow Gowasu up, and he's only saved by Goku and Vegeta's intervention.
  • In Midori Days, Ayase gets a hard lesson in this when a gang of delinquents invades the school looking for Seiji. She tries to see them off with firm authoritarian scolding, only for the leader to smack her in the face and start to drag her off with the blatant intention of raping her, and all the other students just stand helplessly around muttering that somebody ought to notify a teacher. It's only Seiji showing up to beat the shit out of the gang that saves her from a horrible fate.

    Comic Books 
  • Comics in general use violence because it tends to make for exciting stories. The whole situation is summed up in an episode of The Young Ones, where Vyvyan points out how boring most comics would be in a world with no conflict:
    Vyvyan: Exciting new story: "Batman gooses The Joker's crack!"
  • Subverted in an early storyline of The Authority comic: after confronting the Mad Scientist who devasted several major cities with his army of supers, the Authority reaches a compromise with him and enlists him in the reconstruction effort (the reader, of course, never sees him again). Supposedly a metaphor for how Western democracies cut deals with vicious third world dictators.
  • Over and over again in World War Hulk. Absolutely nothing deters Hulk from his rampage except overwhelming force. The characters who look for some nonviolent solution and/or appeal to The Power of Friendship get nowhere and suffer just as much as the ones who go on the offensive from the very beginning.
    • Averted in World War Hulk: X-men where, after three issues of Hulk pounding on the entire X-family, Mercury, a member of the New X-men junior squad, shows Hulk the graves of all the mutants killed just in the short time Hulk was off planet. In the end, Hulk accepts her plea to leave them alone, concluding that Xavier is in his own, personal hell already.
  • A common thing in the Brazilian comic Monica's Gang (bordering Invincible Hero) is basically every villain being defeated by the protagonist — specifically, her beating him to a pulp, usually with her plush bunny.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, the four spend a good deal of time trying to avert this trope. Which, ironically, sometimes results in violence being employed against them, not that it works too well.
  • Kingdom Hearts 4: New Light: Ryo repeatedly advocates a peaceful solution and insists that everyone can be reasoned with, only to be faced with this trope again and again. It comes to a head when he tries to peacefully negotiate with Jazzy and Rodia, and gets near-fatally stabbed in the chest as a result. Even then, it takes a session of Training from Hell at Vanitas' hands for Ryo to finally accept that sometimes, violence is necessary.
  • Subverted in the Persona 4 fanfic The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth by Shadow Dojima, who is accepted by the real Dojima without a fight. It helps that unlike the other characters, A. he is a just shy of 41-year-old adult with a far firmer grip on his own personality flaws, and B. he goes into the encounter knowing exactly what he's in for.

  • Subverted in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides when Jack Sparrow suggests to the crowd of pirates and marines to sit back and watch as Barbossa and Blackbeard duke it out, as they're the only ones who really want the other dead. Both captains then demand their crew fight it out.
  • Used in most of the Star Trek movies, except I and IV.
    • Parodied in the comedy song, Star Trekkin. Sing it in your best Kirk:
    "Ah, we come in peace!/shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men!"
    • VI has this as part of its theme. Specifically, that violence has been the only option for so long between the Klingons and the Federation that there are people on both sides willing to violently betray their own leadership to keep it that way.
  • Enforced in 6 Days. The UK government (especially one Margaret Thatcher) makes it clear to all the top brass involved in handling the Iranian Embassy Siege that they will flat-out refuse any option that would allow the terrorists any sort of freedom through negotiations or outside influence. Despite all negotiations, the whole ordeal ends with one hostage getting executed with another getting killed during the ensuing S.A.S raid. All but one terrorist were also killed in the aftermath.
  • Friend of the World: It is revealed in the final act that the treaty mentioned earlier in the film was for peace, despite initial claims of it being the reason to wipe out civilization.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Phantom Menace
      • Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are sent to Naboo for negotiations. The Trade Federation floods the negotiation room with poison gas and sends a half dozen battle droids.
      • Padme Amidala tries to go before the Senate to stop an invasion/genocide taking place on her planet. When they want to put it off for a committee to examine, she votes the Chancellor out of office and returns to take Naboo back by force.
    • Attack of the Clones
      • Padme Amidala attempts to negotiate with Dooku to free Obi-Wan. Instead, she, Anakin, and Obi-Wan are all thrown into an arena to be killed for the entertainment of the masses. They get away, of course, but this ended up beginning the Clone Wars that would go on for three years and would end with the rise of The Empire we all know and love.
      • Anakin lampshades the Jedi propensity for violence with the Unusual Euphemism of "Aggressive Negotiations", i.e. negotiations with a lightsaber.
    • The very premise of the Clone Wars has the Senate voting to give the Chancellor "Emergency Powers" to declare war on the Separatists. There is no mention of attempts at diplomacy, and neither the Separatists nor the Republic seem to actually want anything other than to go to war. That's because The Man Behind the Man keeps fanning the flames of war.
    • Palpatine directly mentions that he was involved in negotiations with the CIS. Given that he wanted them to formally secede from the Republic and start the war, those negotiations obviously failed. From the perspective of the Jedi, the negotiations failed because the CIS was preparing for war despite said negotiations.
  • The War Of The Worlds (1953) film. Humans try twice to establish peaceful contact with the Martians: three men waving a white flag, and a priest carrying a Bible. They all end up the same way: reduced to dust by a Martian heat ray.
    • One of the few things the film shares with the original story, as the first people to be killed by the Martians were a group of people attempting the same "peaceful contact" thing, only to receive a face full of Death Ray.
    • The 2005 film has Harlan Ogilvy, who keeps endangering Ray and Rachel's safety due to his insanity. Ray keeps trying to reason with him, but is left no choice but to kill him to save his daughter's life.
  • Mars Attacks! parodies this three times. The translation machines even say "We come in peace!"
    • During their initial landing, the Martians massacre most of the humans present to greet them.
    • When they appear before the U.S. Congress "to apologize", they wipe out everyone present.
    • During a meeting to discuss peace with the French government, the obvious happens.
  • Avatar. All negotiations fail before they even begin, and the only solution is to have a big battle scene (which doesn't even work until Gaia's Vengeance arrives). The movie is set decades after first contact though, and initial peaceful relations had more or less completely fallen apart before this story begins.
  • Independence Day and Rambo IV both use this as their main point in dealing with a world full of bad people. During the climax of the latter, Michael (who had previously been a complete pacifist) picks up a rock and uses it to bash in the head of a Burmese soldier.

  • Deconstructed in Animorphs.
    • Is violence really the only option? At first glance, it seems that it is: Yeerks are stealing bodies by force and the kids have to stop them. But as the kids learn, Yeerks need bodies to properly live, and it's possible for the Yeerk and the host to have a symbiotic relationship. The problem is most hosts would resist infestation, which necessitates taking hosts by force. Cassie often tries to convince Yeerks that symbiotism is the best solution — and it works sometimes.
    • For a straight usage of the trope, there is one book where the Animorphs need to retrieve a tiny Plot Coupon from a heavily guarded enemy base. The room where the device is stored is pitch dark and spiderwebbed with alarm tripwires, so they morph bats to navigate it. But once they make it to the device, they realize one of them will have to hold it in their mouth to escape, which will disable their echolocation and make navigation impossible. So they decide to switch to their battle morphs for a fighting escape, instead of trying to carry the thing out with their feet.
  • Played with in Dragon Blood: The king's men come to take the protagonist to an insane asylum. He willingly goes with them to avoid bloodshed, knowing that he will be freed by his allies. They indeed try to do so, by magical, violence-free means, but it doesn't work. So the only option is to ... thwart the king's plans by proving to the public that the protagonist is indeed not stupid. This is difficult, as the king's mage keeps him drugged and tortures him to make him go insane. Thanks to the protagonist's resilience and some unexpected help from the gods, this works flawlessly, but the king is now literally after the protagonist's blood, and that of his family, so violence is the only option in the end.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Mayors": Sef Sermak wants to stop appeasing the Four Kingdoms and start building a Navy to fight off foreign powers. At the beginning of the story, Mayor Hardin tries to explain why Violence Is Not an Option, advocating subtle action and manipulation instead. Sermak is not persuaded by Mayor Hardin's arguments, until the climax, where Seldon confirms that the use of a Scam Religion to make the Four Kingdoms dependent on Terminus was All According to Plan.
    ”Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."Mayor Salvor Hardin
  • Subverted in Rainbow Six. After three confrontations with terrorists that refuse to negotiate or surrender, resulting in everyone in each group dying, the fourth one manages to end with some of them being talked into giving themselves up rather than having to be gunned down.
  • Lee Child's character Jack Reacher often gets into situations where violence is the only option. Just as well: he's six foot five, built like a brick shithouse, well-armed, and has no sense of remorse, really.
  • In C. S. Lewis' The Space Trilogy, Ransom is forced to physically fight with a man possessed by Satan after weeks of debating and arguing have failed, in order to save Perelandra from becoming a fallen world like Earth. Ransom is initially appalled by the idea and uses it only as a last resort. He also knows he has a very good chance of dying in the attempt.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe is a gigantic franchise, with dozens, if not hundreds, of books, comics, and video games. The number of stories in which everything is resolved by peaceful negotiation is in the double digits. At most. Presumably, this is for Rule of Drama purposes-let's face it, there are Jedi who do nothing but negotiate treaties all the time, but that's not going to be very interesting for most of the audience, is it?
    • (This franchise is called Star Wars, not Star Peace. It's pretty much a given that 90% of all conflicts in this universe are going to be solved through violence and not negotiation.)
  • In the Christopher Ruocchio's The Suneater, the Sollan Empire, (a quasi-religious imperialist human faction and humanity's largest contingent). and the alien Cielcin gather for peace talks in the 2nd book "Howling Dark". The talks would be overseen by a neutral party, the legendary hero Kharn Sagara who's long abandoned humanity to become a Transhuman cyborg and has trade relations with the Cielcin. The Empire was so eager for peace, they even offered 5000 humans to become Cielcin slaves. It all was for nought as the cruel Cielcin's only vocabulary for peace is submission and the Empire does a treacherous attack during negotiations to successfully cripple the Cielcin.
  • As one would expect from the series title, this happens frequently in Warrior Cats. Of note, the side book Battles of the Clans has a short story focusing on this idea, where a leader asks the other Clans to stop stealing prey from his starving Clan instead of fighting back. This only serves as an invitation to them since they know they'll be unchallenged; in the end, the spirit of his lost mate appears to him in a vision and convinces him to let his Clan fight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An example of "trick by the villains to lure the heroes into an ambush": The 1970s Battlestar Galactica series. After a thousand year war, the 12 Colonies sent off their entire fleet of Battlestars to a diplomatic meeting with the Cylons, leaving the Colonies completely defenseless. The Council insisted that the fleet not prepare for combat in any way, leaving it defenseless as well. Naturally, the Cylons take advantage of this grotesque stupidity to wipe out both the Colonies and almost all of the Battlestars.
  • In the pilot for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Earth is slowly rebuilding and gladly accepts Princess Ardala's offer of peace and gifts. Eventually, this trope comes into play, as she is preparing for an invasion.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer pulls this off in "Pangs." After all the hand-wringing about dealing with Hus in light of the atrocities his people suffered, Spike points out that Hus simply doesn't care about their White Guilt; he's angry and vengeful and just wants them all dead. And even if Hus was willing to talk, there's very little the Scoobies could actually say that would make up for said atrocities, their inaction isn't helping the situation, and if they want to survive they've got no choice but to fight Hus and destroy him no matter how bad they feel about it.
    Spike: It's kill or be killed here. Take your bloody pick.
  • Memorably subverted in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, "Year of Hell". The two-parter starts with Voyager running into a suicidally overconfident alien ship which demands they turn around without any explanation. Voyager easily destroys the ship, and heads deeper into the territory to figure out what's going on. When the Reset Button is pressed at the end of the second part, the scenario plays out again- except this time the alien ship greets them pleasantly, warns them that a war is going on, gives them a map of the disputed territory and they leave on amicable terms. Considering how comparatively easy that was, it's a little strange why violence seems to be the first resort for most species in the Delta Quadrant.
  • An interesting variant in Star Trek: Discovery. In the very first episode, the USS Shenzhou finds itself in a very tense situation where they are face-to-face with the Sarcophagus. Michael Burnham attempts to tell Phillipe Georgiou to fire on the Klingons first as Vulcans were forced to do so decades ago. However, Burnham doesn't put this through clearly at all and it makes it seem that she wants to shoot them in revenge for the death of her birth parents. However, this wouldn't have mattered as T'Kuvma is itching for a fight and is looking for any reason to start one so he can unite the Klingon Great Houses.
  • In the season 1 finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Pike gets to see a possible future with him still in command of the Enterprise during the incident with the Romulan bird-of-prey incursion. Unlike the more aggressive Kirk (who's in command of the Farragut in this reality), Pike seeks a diplomatic solution and even convinces the Romulan commander to agree to a ceasefire. But the Romulan Number Two is having none of that, calling the rest of the Romulan fleet and letting the Praetor know of the Federation's weakness. What follows is two decades of war that take away millions of lives, including that of Spock, the only chance for peace between the two cultures. Pike realizes that Kirk is the better choice to command the Enterprise at that time, as he would've destroyed the bird-of-prey, which would show the Romulans that the Federation is not to be messed with. Oh, and the Romulan commander dies anyway in this reality, as the Praetor punishes him for allowing his ship to be seen during the incursion.
  • Appears in Toku, but special mention goes to Kamen Rider 555, where any attempts to solve the conflict the protagonists have with each other must happen through a fight. Overlaps with Conflict Ball.
  • Farscape Peacekeeper Wars runs on this. The heroes try to run away, then they try to help the bad guys negotiate, but finally, despite all of Crichton's protests, the only way to force the bad guys into an armistice is by launching a wormhole weapon that threatens to destroy the entire universe (getting as far as destroying all the bad guys' warships before it's stopped.)
  • The trope can be summed up in three words: The War Doctor. This is the man who saw no other way but to steal and detonate The Moment, and watch as Gallifrey burned to ash. Except...we later find out that he froze the planet and tucked it away in a pocket dimension.
  • In The 100, after the first few violent confrontations with the Grounders, the 100 try to set up peace talks to bring an end to the fighting. It's supposed to be a meeting between Anya, leader of the Grounders, and Clarke, unofficial leader of the 100, and neither of them's supposed to bring weapons or other soldiers. However, neither Anya nor Clarke trust each other, so they both have some of their people hiding in the woods nearby with guns or bows. When the snipers in the woods spot each other, all hell breaks loose.

  • Bloodline: The Last Royal Vampire:
    • Lilo I got a full taste of this during the Daybreak Fantasy prequel and the years after that. For the Darkins, violence is pretty much a necessity for dealing with the Holy Land, who kills innocent humans just for being friends with them. Ren learned this the hard way as well when he confronts Order Nun O-Three over attempting they kill his ghost sister despite her doing absolutely nothing wrong. Her response was simply impaling him with her scythe, forcing Lilo to save him, and training him appropriately so that he could take down her persecutors.


    Mythology & Religion 
  • Arthurian Legend:
    • The original legend of King Arthur and Medred (commonly, Mordred) at the Battle of Camlann involves Arthur's and Medred's armies poised on the field. At first, it seems that the two leaders will be able to negotiate a peaceful resolution... then an adder spooks a soldier on one side into drawing his sword to kill it; thus causing a chain reaction that leads to everyone on both sides drawing swords, and they end up going to war.
    • In Le Morte D Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, the justification is that due to the mutual lack of trust, both Arthur and his son, Medred / Mordrednote , had given orders to their army to attack "at the sight of a naked blade." Bear in mind also the symbolic meaning of the serpent to the (almost invariably) Western, Christian reader of the original...
    • This also occurs in "The Tale of King Arthur and Emperor Lucius", where one of Arthur's knights beheads a Roman knight during peace talks. And it was the Arthurian knight's fault in the first place.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Subverted and justified often, as the easiest solutions to most problems are to A: Fire the offender in question. B: Offer money and or some special perk to the offender in question. C: Quit and go to another promotion in the event you do not have the power to do so. The problem facing general managers in wrestling is that violence is often the most lucrative solution. Those pay per views aren't going to pay for themselves! Thus, when a GM does take the easy option, he is often overruled by a higher authority and forced to book a match.
  • On the opposite side of the spectrum, sometimes heel wrestler actions go so far outside of the realm of cheating and poor sportsmanship that they end up being plain criminal and deserving of at least a trial. The baby faces will, 9 times out of 10, decline to press charges, preferring to simply get a chance to defeat their tormentors in the ring.
  • And sometimes, the answer to the non violent solution to some is violence, such as when Eddie Gilbert tried to run over Jerry Lawler in a parking lot after his brother Doug had been "fired" from the promotion. Nope, just firing Eddie as well wouldn't be enough.
  • Rikishi tried to run over "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for The Rock. Their solution, beat up Rikishi. This one was a little better than most, as it turned out Triple H was behind it, but since no one knew ahead of time, nor simply put Triple H in jail, it still fits.
  • Cibernético tried to kill Muerte Cibernética for good by dumping his casket into an active volcano! After somehow escaping, Cibernética was content to just keep wrestling for AAA.
  • Samoa Joe made more progress toward breaking up Special K by simply talking to Hydro than everyone else in Ring of Honor did by fighting them.
  • Ultimately, OVW dealt with Boogeyman by simply giving him a spot on the roster, after everything else they tried to keep him away failed. Here it was more like "setting aside time for him to do violence" was the only option.
  • So you're being accused of fathering a child out of wedlock with a drunken crackhead. While most people would just get the paternity test, AJ Styles's first step to rectifying the issue was to challenge one of his accusers in a match and then take the test if he won, that is he'd admit to charges of being the father if he couldn't beat Christopher was TNA.

    Tabletop Games 
  • To say that this trope generally applies in the Warhammer 40,000 world is a bit like saying that the sun is hot — it's technically correct, but it fails to convey the sheer magnitude of the situation.
    • Special mention must be given to da Orks, however, an entire species that has this trope programmed into their very biology, who solve everything via liberal use of dakka and/or choppa, and if it isn't solved, well, that just means more fighting. WAAAGH!
    • To elaborate even further, to Orks, violence isn't so much a way of settling differences (but that too) as it is a social skill. Someone giving you lip? Whack him in the head with the business end of a massive axe (he'll survive). Are you having a race? Consider shooting at the other contestants with whatever firearm you have at hand (they nearly always have one), it's pretty much considered polite (don't you dare hit their vehicle, though, that's likely to make them go berserk — they're also likely to survive, regardless of what weapon you have "on hand"). Did a fellow ork make a stupid comment? Crush his entire body in your mechanical claw/backhand him with enough force to knock over a truck (he'll probably survive). An ork that is run over in a race by a multi-ton halftrack is likely to roll around on the ground, writhing in laughter.
    • Their currency is literally teef, so they have both a biological and economic reason for violence.
    • It's somewhat telling that the Tau are the only major race in the entire setting to avert this in any long-term capacity, being notable for happily employing translators and being willing to conduct negotiations that range beyond "get out of the way, or kill yourself before we do." And, even at their nicest, Tau diplomacy largely consists of aiming a pulse rifle at your head and asking if you are willing to work for the Greater Good. No answer? Sounds like a job for a Fire Cadre to enslave and/or prepare planet for repopulation.
  • Same goes with pretty much every Paranoia game. You're usually playing a member of a Troubleshooter team, and a Troubleshooter's job is to find trouble and shoot it. Oh, and speaking of trouble, see those teammates of yours..?
    • It's been said that the closest thing Paranoia has to an ideal mission end is to be the only survivor. That way, you can assign all the blame to everyone else and no one can contradict you.
  • Averted in 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons with the "Diplomancer" approach, which takes advantage of the flat difficulties set for Diplomacy checks to reduce someone's hostility towards you — a high-level bard can make anything completely indifferent to his presence quite rapidly. A properly tweaked Diplomancer can turn any hostile intelligent being in helpful friends just as quickly, or even into a fanatical follower willing to sacrifice their life at the mere word of the diplomancer, if tweaking is taken far enough. This is why DM fiat isn't always a bad thing.
  • In Exalted, due to the difference in timescale between Social and physical combat (roughly, one 'tick' of social is equivalent to sixty of actual fighting), the most effective way of countering the Mind Rape abilities of the more powerful Exalts is to draw your sword and get hacking.
  • This is a somewhat easy conclusion to accidentally jump to from reading many tabletop RPG rulebooks in general. After all, while most other challenges are frequently all lumped together and handled with some quick-and-easy general resolution mechanic that may boil down to no more than a die roll or two to get on with the story (arguably the main technical issue with the "diplomancer" approach brought up above), combat traditionally tends to get singled out as somehow "special" with a lot more page space dedicated to its particular set of rules...that must mean it's the main point of the game and preferred way to deal with problems, right?
    • Some games avert this, by handling violent combat exactly the same way as any other conflict between different characters. Golden Sky Stories goes so far as to penalize you for resorting to violence on top of that, encouraging players to find any other way to solve a problem.
    • A discussed and lampshaded trope in Greg Stolze's How to Play Roleplaying Games.
    • Also discussed in the GURPS sourcebook Social Engineering, which was touched on the differing approaches stereotypical tabletop RPGs have towards violence and talking your way out.
  • BattleTech runs on this trope. The setting is kept in a state of near perpetual war because peace is boring (and would stop them from making more sourcebooks).
  • An in universe example is the Iconoclastics from Genius: The Transgression. Iconoclasts are mad scientists who use their superhuman intellects to come up with elaborate justifications why violence is the only option. Why? Because they enjoy hurting people.
  • Red Hand of Doom: Enforced. Your enemy is a giant army of hobgoblins, dragons, giants and evil oustiders with the goal of conquering all of Elsir Vale. The campaign makes that clear in universe and explains that any attempt to parley or negotiate with the Red Hand will fail...and lead to the players getting captured or killed.

  • Lampshaded in this The Adventures of Gyno-Star strip: The superheroes deliberately pick fights where violence is the only option, as violence is the only thing they can do. Gyno-Star's request to do something about more abstract injustice is met with confusion — if they can't punch it in the face, they can't fight it.
  • The main cast of 8-Bit Theater, particularly Black Mage, author of the immortal phrase "I solve my problems through violence".
  • Schlock Mercenary is an interesting case, since most of the cast claim to believe it, but they usually find a solution that doesn't involve killing everyone. Then there's Massey, the company lawyer, and the least-violent member on staff by a wide margin.
    Massey: Violence can't solve everything, sergeant.
    Massey: You're...probably right.
  • Nebula: Deliberately engineered by Black Hole to make Pluto (who couldn't hear what was said) think that the others were violent killers. Her minion, Ceres, refused to back off through talking/non-violent means and refused to stop torturing the planets, and any attempts made at it were painfully obviously prolonging the planets' suffering. The only thing that stopped Ceres was Sun ripping his hand through their torso.
  • Made into a religious tenet in Kill Six Billion Demons. "Violence is inescapable" is one of the core truths of the the setting's main faith and there are several stories and legends in the complementary material of the series preaching this Aesop. Worst of all, they seem to be right.
  • In The Order of the Stick, this is Roy's completely justified response to the suggestion of diplomacy with Xykon.
    • Once more on similar lines when Xykon tries to do this to Roy. In a somewhat humorous instance, the big bad spends several rounds attempting to talk Roy into leaving to go adventure some more before confronting him, only to be attacked each time.
    • Later, in Girard Draketooth's stronghold, upon learning of Malack's vampirism, Durkon rebuffed any of the diplomatic proposals the former attempted to make for peace. Upon confirming that there indeed could only ever be conflict between the two from that point, Malack attacked Durkon, but not before pausing wistfully, wishing that there could be another way.

    Web Original 
  • In Greek Ninja, although there is some form of a discussion first, Sasha and Daichi decide it's the only way to settle their disagreement.
  • Subverted in Hello, from the Magic Tavern when Arnor declares that Arnie must exceed his own feats for the right to call himself Arnie (long story). After hearing about several impressive acts of combat, Arnie tries to suggest that maybe diplomacy might be a better option in some cases. Arnor responds that in fact several of his feats were completely non-violent - in fact, one of his proudest accomplishments was persuading a tyrant to release his numerous slaves with nothing but an impassioned speech.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance" , several of the galaxy's nations follow this policy when it comes to other races. While peaceful in nature, the Galactic Commonwealth also is ready to use violence, especially when facing a foe they believe they cannot reason with.

    Western Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, there are villains like Lord Tirek who have no redeeming qualities, so they can never be reasoned with at all.
  • Minerva learns this lesson in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce.
  • In the Halloween episode of The Angry Beavers with the Oxnard Montalvo, at one point Oxnard is holding off a bunch of monsters, when someone suggests they attempt to communicate. Oxnard says that he is speaking the only language the monsters can understand, namely, fisticuffs.
  • Often played straight in the Justice League, but especially in The Terror Beyond, where Superman, Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman bust into Dr. Fate's tower, and find him performing some ritual with Aquaman and Solomon Grundy, and immediately decide to attack, while Fate and co. violently defend themselves without a word of explanation. Just a single sentence in the vein of "We're just trying to save the world here, so please butt out for a minute" would have avoided a lot of pain in all sides.
  • This is one of the driving forces behind Aang's character growth in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Being a pacifist monk who was taught to never kill, he's not really suited for being at the head of the war effort, and often tries diplomacy instead. When the time comes to defeat the Big Bad, his friends and past lives point out that he has no other choice but to kill him, even if it's sacrificing his morals. In the end, he gets a spiritual way to defeat Ozai instead of killing him. They still have an epic battle.
    • A potential interpretation of events of the final Agni Kai. Zuko knows by now his father was a terrible person and might have some small clue that Azula was left worse off; but now she's a mad dog aching for a fight with her brother, and words aren't going to reach her.
    • The reverse problem is handed to his successor, Avatar Korra. She’s a Blood Knight in a situation which requires a little more diplomacy and political maneuvering than she’s used to. That’s not to say she shouldn’t use violence — just a little less.
  • Parodied in the Phineas and Ferb episode, "Excaliferb". Carl's attempt to introduce Carl the paladin is actually attempting to hide the fact that the book ends with a very long, dry arms treatise.
    • Normally played straight, but sometimes averted. Several times, Doofenshmirtz will admit that his plan has failed (either through sabotage or his own shortsightedness) and point out that there's no reason to fight, half-heartedly yell "curse you Perry the Platypus", and go to bed.
  • A repeated problem that Jedi have and discuss in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. In the former show, the Jedi's inability to reconcile this with their peacemaking beliefs leads to corruption both individually and as a whole, and adds to Anakin's increasing darkness. In the latter, Kanan has difficulty teaching Ezra to be a diplomatic and see violence as a last resort when it's often the only option they have, complicated by Ezra's natural empathy and his vengeful feelings towards the Empire. Ezra eventually finds balance, while Anakin and the Jedi slowly get worse, leading to the events of Revenge of the Sith.
  • One harsh lesson that the title character of Steven Universe is forced to learn during Season Three is that diplomacy and reasoning don't always work and sometimes you have no choice but to use violence against an enemy. For example, Bismuth and Jasper showed a sympathetic side, but that doesn't mean that they'll automatically accept Steven's points. They outright reject and even try to kill him when he extends an arm to them, leaving him with no choice but to subdue them with force. Eyeball was simply a Sociopathic Soldier and trying to reason with her gave her the opportunity to almost kill him, so Steven has to kick her out of the bubble and leaves her stranded in space in order to save himself. The episodes "Mindful Education" and "Storm in the Room" shows that not being able to get the three of them to reform took a really harsh blow to Steven's psyche, because his caring worldview has let him down in those situations. Bismuth was eventually convinced to turn her life around the second time she was freed, though this was mainly due to... a certain truth of Rose Quartz being revealed that recontextualized her actions.


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First on the Agenda

NUM leader Arthur Scargill discusses the miners' strike with a rank-and-file union member.

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Main / ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption

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