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Violence Really Is the Answer

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Gothwrain: Now now Diggers, let's not lose our temper. Violence is not the answer!
Theodore: You're right Gothwrain. It's not the answer. Violence is the question. The answer is YES!

A character who firmly believes in Thou Shalt Not Kill ends up being presented with a situation extreme enough that despite much compunctions and reservations, they are compelled to resort to violence ― and it works. It makes everything all right. It was the right thing to do all along.

The character is usually, but not always, a Technical Pacifist or something to that extent. If they were an Actual Pacifist, they would never resort to violence under any circumstances at all; if they were a '90s Anti-Hero, they would have no problem with it to begin with. In some versions, they will be (self-)tortured after making this choice, but in others, it is surprisingly easy, and it really seems like the message is that pacifism is laughable, or at best impractical. For some pacifist characters, it could be interpreted by some audiences that they will refuse to resort to violence until it is proven to them that their enemy has no qualms about using it and is shameless about doing so, which acts as a sort of Godzilla Threshold to persuade the character that resorting to violence is a necessary evil, convincing them to become a Martial Pacifist. This moral is often proven by a Pacifism Backfire.

A classic Hard Truth Aesop. Compare with Murder Is the Best Solution, Violence is the Only Option, Beat the Curse Out of Him, and The Extremist Was Right. Guilt-Free Extermination War is the ultimate extreme case. Related to Might Makes Right and sometimes related to Right Makes Might. Often goes hand-in-hand with War Is Hell: the necessity doesn't make it less horrific.

Contrast No-Harm Requirement where violence has to be avoided for one reason or another and Sheathe Your Sword where non-violence really is the answer.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kitano from Angel Densetsu is an Actual Pacifist that always gets dragged unwillingly into fights. Normally he just stands there dodging every blow until his opponent is too tired to continue—just do not push his Berserk Button.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • During the Saiyan and Frieza Sagas, Goku repeatedly refuses to kill even the most evil of opponents and often spares them, something Vegeta calls him out on after Goku subdues the Ginyu Force only for Vegeta himself to kill them. It comes back to bite him more than once; for example, during the battle with Frieza, despite all of the horrible things Frieza has done, including personally killing Goku's best friend Krillin, Goku spares his life twice, which only prompts Frieza to try to stab him in the back both times. From that point onwards, Goku becomes more willing to kill his opponents, actively trying to kill Cell and openly encouraging Gohan to do the same.
    • This is played far more straight with Gohan who, unlike his father, never wanted to be a warrior and only started fighting villains reluctantly. This culminates in the Cell Arc when he is sent in to fight Cell and tries to convince him to leave peacefully as he is afraid of what will happen if he loses control. Cell, being a Blood Knight himself, is delighted to learn about Gohan's hidden potential and proceeds to do everything in his power to set him off. Ultimately, Android 16 explains to Gohan that pacifism won't work for genocidal monsters like Cell and that it is okay to fight. After 16's death, Gohan unleashes his full power and never holds back against evil opponents like Cell again.
  • Full Metal Panic! has the former child-soldier and career mercenary protagonist acting as the head coach for his high school rugby team, who had lost forty-nine of their past forty-nine games. By the end of his training, every one of the wimpy, pacifist team members have been turned into berserkers with burning-red eyes. One of them is outright disappointed that a tackle that carried him through a member of the rival team left said person trembling on the ground instead of dead. With that in mind, the substitute coach was literally reading an instruction manual that was inspired by the teachings of Drill Sergeant Hartman. Of course, the entire episode (if not the entire series) is being Played for Laughs.
  • In One Piece's Alabasta Arc, Vivi believes that she can stop Crocodile's coup by convincing the rebels they are in fact unwitting pawns and stop the civil war Baroque Works is causing without anyone dying. Luffy, however, knows life isn't that simple, and convinces her that the best course of action is to stop pussyfooting around and just attack the problem at its source: Crocodile himself.
    • Mind you, this example is a lot more Zigzagged than most; Vivi is already a combatant who has no problem using (or at least trying) severe or even lethal force against immediate dangers, and in fact spent two years undercover in a gang of vicious bounty hunters/assassins. The argument is more over tactics and priorities than it is over violence/pacifism ideology, and the Straw Hats actually do give Vivi's idea a shot when some desert animals pop up to provide convenient means of transportation to the rebels' camp (though this ultimately fails because Crocodile has planted agitators in both the royal and rebel armies - something neither party actually brought up when Luffy and Vivi had their initial argument).
  • Ramen Fighter Miki: In a World… full of Fighting Series that always say that Violence Is Bad but the protagonists always solve their problems through violence, this series is one of the few that averts this trope: Every problem the protagonist had could have been resolved without violence, and those who practice violence is because they are clearly idiots.
  • Vash of Trigun is quite similar to Jimmy Stewart's character in Destry Rides Again (see Film), but his ultimate need to use (lethal) violence is shown as very traumatic. Since the series ends right after the choice, it's hard to tell what his future will be.
    • The manga elaborates it more than the anime, but the aesop is the same: Sometimes, you just have to do it; it's not pretty, it's sad, but it needs to be done, to prevent something worse.


    Comic Books 
  • In one Atomic Robo story, the titular robot battles giant ants encroaching on Reno, Nevada. When interviewed afterwards about how he defeated them, he explains "I used my violence."
  • Subverted in The Badger. In one story the Badger debates this issue with a crippled street musician. After the Badger saves him from a mugger the busker, while remaining personally committed to pacifism concedes that the Badger has a point.
  • Batgirl (2000): Cassandra Cain often plays with this. Thanks to having Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training, she's essentially nonfunctional in anything that doesn't involve hitting people very hard, and though she tries her best at more traditional methods, she still tends to jump to her fists at the first opportunity. Being Cassandra Cain, this usually works.
  • Batman, despite his usual Thou Shalt Not Kill rule has resorted to this on a few occasions when the villain he's fighting can't be safely contained. Not counting several Early-Installment Weirdness stories from the Golden Age where he killed several villains, the modern era has his original encounter with KGBeast whom he leaves to drown in the sewers (this is later retconned with the GCPD saving him), enraging Deacon Blackfire's followers into killing him in Batman: The Cult, and him shooting Darkseid during Final Crisis. While he doesn't kill he still uses plenty of violence, often leaving criminals with broken bones for the police to pick up.
    • In all of these situations, Batman was acting in a fundamentally different capacity than his usual hunter mode. Batman has rarely been depicted as opposed to lethal force on principle, simply viewing it as Dirty Business instead; for example, he doesn't seem to mind police using deadly force when they have no other choice. Because he is not authorized by a governing body to dispense lethal force, he has trained himself to the point that he always has another choice. In all three of these instances, the people were outside of the law's protection already and were treated by Batman as enemy combatants rather than criminals.
    • As for Darkseid? This was because of just how dire the situation is. Darkseid was threatening the Multiverse with his death as his final spiteful act and Batman decided on a "once-in-a-lifetime exception" on his aversion to killing and firearms to shoot Darkseid with a Radion bullet (the same one Darkseid used to kill his son Orion and that started all this), as Radion is the Kryptonite to New Gods.
  • One of the Forever Evil (2013) tie-ins focusses on a brother and sister in Black Adam's home country of Khandaq, which is being ruled by a brutal US-backed dictator named Ibac. The sister believes they can liberate the country through peaceful protest and appealing to the international community, while the brother joins a violent militant group called the "Sons of Adam". The Sons try to conduct a mystical ritual to restore Adam (who was killed at the end of Shazam!) to life, but Ibac's soldiers find them and kill them. As her brother dies in her arms, the sister completes the ritual, Black Adam is resurrected and leads the Sons in a violent rebellion, personally (and gruesomely) murdering Ibac. The sister decides her brother was right and grabs his gun, then races off to join the fight.
  • The current page quote from Gold Digger actually subverts the trope in context. Gothwrain is egging Theodore Diggers on to try to kill him on purpose in order to enable his own Thanatos Gambit that he's been plotting for at least years; violence is exactly the answer he wants.
  • A Golden Age Comic Book story featuring the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion had them interact with two pacifist brothers who'd isolated themselves in their house for years because of the world's warlike ways. Enemy spies break into the house for some reason (possibly to use it as a hideout, or to steal the brothers' stashed money to fund their spy ring) and it's only by the Guardian's use of applied force that the spies are defeated. The brothers grasp the intended Aesop, that if you don't confront evil, it will eventually come in after you.
  • The original run of Hawk and Dove had this as a message. Of course, if you're going to be a crime-fighter, it's implied that you have to fight people, Dove.
  • A crossover between The Punisher and Deathlok (a pacifist man in the body of a killing machine) feature this. The climax of the story has Frank killing a man threatning the life of Deathlok's son. Deathlok initially objects, and Frank says that he didn't have a choice. Deathlok gets ready to argue, but then decides that this time, he was right, and thanks him for saving his son's life.
  • Superman, in his early Post-Crisis years, infamously killed several (depowered) villains who'd killed their worlds and threatened to get their powers back and do the same to Earth-DC; Supes was left tormented as a result. It strengthened his resolve to always find another way from then on, to the point that when later confronted with Xenomorphs in Superman / Aliens, he is still reluctant to kill them.
  • Both played straight and inverted in Transmetropolitan. By the end of the series, Spider has personally killed more than a dozen people (mostly in self defense) and has committed assault on hundreds, if not thousands. But he also carries around a mostly nonviolent, if uncomfortable, weapon (the Bowel Disruptor, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin) and almost all real change is effected through the written word rather than the alternative.
  • Wolverine:
    • Old Man Logan turns out this way. 50 years after becoming an Actual Pacifist, a cross-country errand to earn enough money to save his family leads Logan into a confrontation where violence is unavoidable, as he's locked in a room with someone trying to kill him. Unfortunately, after he defeats his foe and returns home, it turns out he should have resorted to violence much earlier.
    • This has cropped up more often in recent years. His solution in Avengers vs. X-Men? Murder Hope Summers, a teenage mutant girl, for being a beacon for the Phoenix (though he can't go through with it). And in Age of Ultron? Murder Hank Pym so he can't make Ultron, who has successfully taken over the world. A Subverted Trope that second time, as it makes everything go From Bad to Worse in The Multiverse.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Mistyfoot is initially willing to be a loyal deputy to Leopardstar despite the leader's responsibility for her brother's death and the prejudice against half-Clan cats like her. However, after Hawkfrost's death, she sees how the problem of "Thistle Law" ideology doesn't go away and Leopardstar continues with the same old habits, and she decides the only way to get rid of this ideology is to kill it by killing Leopardstar. It works, and she's able to use her leadership to make sure her Clan never goes in that direction again (though her traditionalism poses its own problems later on when she sides with Ashfur in punishing codebreakers).
  • Played With in A Loud Among Demons; as much as Lincoln doesn't want to use violence, he understands that it's necessary when dealing with people that deserve it (such as his encounters with Martha and Lyle Lipton). However, Lincoln will only resort to violence if he absolutely has to, and refuses to kill out of fear that he would develop a taste for bloodshed.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: More than once, the members of Tsukune's group advocate violence as a solution to their current problem. And more often than not, it turns out to be right:
    • In Act III chapter 7, Dark explicitly warns Tsukune that he will kill him should Tsukune go anywhere near Mizore, making no secret of the fact that he doesn't trust Tsukune, even with the Holy Lock, to hold the ghoul back when he failed to do so once already. By the next chapter, Tsukune approaches them anyway, hoping to talk things over... and Dark promptly attacks him at full force, telling Tsukune that he should have just heeded his warnings and stayed away. However, in the ensuing fight, Dark, along with Mizore and Felucia, who both agreed with him that the Holy Lock was untrustworthy, see firsthand just how strong the chain is and accept that the ghoul is gone.
    • In Act IV chapter 3, when Akua and Kahlua point out that they came to Yokai Academy to learn the value of human life, Kurumu tells them outright that, as far as she's concerned, they would have learned it a lot faster if Tsukune had just let Issa beat the two of them into the ground.
    • In Act II, when Kokoa picks a fight with Moka over Tsukune and goes so far as to invoke the Eia Dreahl, punishable by death if broken, to see who would win him, Moka agrees despite her inner self repeatedly insisting that they just beat her senseless and be done with it. Later, in Act IV chapter 13, Outer Moka suggests that they just let her beat the new Falla into the ground.
    • During the early part of Act VI, Gabriel repeatedly objects to the gang killing members of the HDA, in part because of the angels' code that humans are sacred and untouchable no matter what, despite the fact that the HDA is openly anti-monster and is actively trying to kill him along with the other members of the gang. Eventually, Ceal gets sick of it and subjects Gabriel to a Sadistic Choice, either to kill Ceal himself to stop him from killing an HDA officer, or to stand back and watch as Ceal does so. Gabriel chooses to Take a Third Option by Mercy Killing the officer to spare him a slower and more agonizing death at Ceal's hands, and from that point on, resolves to do whatever it takes to save his friends, even if it means killing the humans he's sworn to protect.
  • In This Bites!, this is how Cross sums up his approach to correcting the many, many social wrongs plaguing the Crapsaccharine World that is the Grand Line and the Four Blues. Some evils just will not end until and unless somebody puts an end to them by force. Particularly notable examples include bluntly calling Vivi out on how it's impossible for them to prevent the fighting between the Alabastan loyalists and the rebels with Baroque Works goading on boath sides, lampshading Queen Otohime's canonical Pacifism Backfire, and staging an elaborate raid on the slave merchants of Sabaody to inspire pirates worldwide to start raiding slavers, which ultimately triggers an uprising by Sabaody's native population, who are sick of their home being used as the Grand Line's premier slave market.
  • With This Ring: In the Renegade timeline, Miss Martian, who is a naturally gentle and kind person, finds herself backed into a corner where killing the "bad guys" is the only way to stop them from slaughtering innocents.
    M'gann: This is how you feel all the time, isn't it? You try to fix things and everyone just-.
    Grayven: Epiphanise later, M'gann!

    Grayven: Why did you use the form of a Burning Martian?
    M'gann: Efficiency. I thought maybe I could use their fear-. No. I needed to destroy, and that form is.. better than all of the other forms I could have used. I needed something the Manhunters didn't know how to fight. So I did it. I took on the form of a prehistoric killing machine. Because that was what I needed to get the result I wanted. I stabbed and burned and killed because that was what needed to happen. I turned myself back after they retreated... And I don't feel bad.
  • In The Wizard in the Shadows, Harry's default response to most problems is to blast his way through them. Or, for instance, use an unhelpful guard as a battering ram.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman is a type who has no problem with brutal fights but a code against killing. Often, villains (especially the Joker) will test this commitment.
    • The movie Batman Begins presents an example where he has no choice, as his mentor turned enemy explicitly states that he feels no gratitude that Bruce previously saved his life and vows to kill Bruce if he doesn't join his cause. Ultimately, Batman doesn't kill the villain but rather declines to save him, which is still at odds with Batman's code of ethics, at least the one established in the comics (especially as it was Batman's plan to stop the train that put the villain in a position which threatened his life). Of course, he was just starting out. It should also be noted that the villain was likely capable of saving himself, if he so wanted to. He seems to have solidified his moral code by the time of The Dark Knight—when the spring-loaded razors on his gauntlets cut the Joker and causes him to fall off the building, he still catches him. It could also be argued that since he survived the fall, he might not have expected Dent to die when he prevented him from killing Gordon's son. Batman can be excused for Dent's death, considering he was exhausted and shot, he only tackled Dent off the ledge to save a small child, and there really wasn't any way for him to know that there would be a fall that would kill Dent. Dent's death was an accident that Bruce can't really be held accountable for.
    • Burton's Batman, on the other hand, never had this problem, and just killed without much thought.
  • The entire plot of the film Billy Jack. Becomes a bit of a Broken Aesop when the film keeps trying to insist that the peaceful, nonviolent hippies are in the right, but Billy Jack's freely-dispensed asskickings are the only thing keeping them from being repeatedly victimized by the town bullies.
  • A complex example in Destry Rides Again. The title character has renounced violence and is a real Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass who elects to take down the bad guy by being a Guile Hero. But when his boss, the sheriff, is murdered by the bad guys, Destry snaps and assembles a posse to wipe out Kent and his gang by force. However, this trope is ultimately averted when the women of the town, determined to stop the bloodbath, arm themselves with two-by-fours and defeat the bad guys with some whacks to the head.
  • In Die Hard, Sgt. Powell tells McClane he asked to become a desk Sergeant because of an incident where he shot a kid who was holding a realistic-looking toy gun. He explains after this, he could never bring himself to point his gun at anyone else again. Fortunately he abandons this policy at the end of the movie by killing the last surviving terrorist, saving McClane's life in the nick of time.
  • Evil: Violence was the answer to crush the Gang of Bullies at Erik's prep school. Erik turns the other cheek for almost the entire movie, and his reward is to suffer horrific torture that ends with him nearly getting murdered, and his best friend Pierre is beaten to a pulp before leaving the school. However, once Erik does decide to start hurting people, he delivers an immensely satisfying beatdown to Dalen that ends in Dalen crawling out of the ring with a shattered nose. Just the threat of violence to Otto, whom Erik catches alone without his goon squad, results in Otto dropping to his knees and crying like a little girl before he pukes all over himself. Then at the end he goes home, tells his brutal stepfather that the stepfather has to leave the house, and then gives him a beating as well (offscreen).
  • In High Noon, the main character's wife is a Quaker, and against violence. She leaves her husband when he wants to fight with his enemies instead of escaping, but finally returns to him, and shoots one of the bad guys.
  • Played for laughs in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where a character goes from crying their eyes out over the brutality of war to exclaiming "War! It's FAN-TASTIC!" thanks to a brief pep-talk.
  • Killer Croc: After it becomes clear just how dangerous the crocodile really is following Joe's death, Kevin abandons his previous stance on killing wildlife and sets out to put an end to the creature's rampage.
  • In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, seemingly everyone starts out feeling reluctant to take up arms and go to war. Everyone who actively resists the call to arms is presented as being either weak or being secretly manipulated by the enemy. Still, with a wrathful demigod on the loose who has an army of objectively evil minions at his beck and call, the only choices they really have are to fight or to be brutally slaughtered.
  • The missionaries in Rambo IV find out the hard and painful way that only violence understands violence and when your opponents' goal is mass genocide, pacifism just makes their job easier. Rambo himself has no such illusions, and has no choice but to unleash a world of hurt on the Burmese military junta to save what's left of the naive missionary team. It appears that cold, harsh reality backs this one up; the monks who attempted peaceful protests against the Burmese S.P.D.C. were all but wiped out.
  • The Rundown's climactic moment occurs when Dwayne Johnson's character finally proves why you shouldn't put a gun in his hand and he unleashes his badass fury with an arsenal of weapons.
  • The title character of the film Sergeant York - just like the Real Life Sgt. York - converts to Christianity, reads the Bible, and is convinced that following the Lord requires one to be a pacifist. But when he's forced to fight (he gets drafted, applies as a Conscientious Objector, and is turned down), he decides that if God's will is to save lives, then he has to fight well, because he sees no other way to save the lives of his comrades without taking the lives of the enemy. It's worth noting that he does take prisoner many more enemy soldiers than he kills, but he does kill and feels justified in doing so despite remaining a pacifist at heart.
  • Zigzagged in Starship Troopers; the teacher, Mr. Rasczak, lectures his class on how all political power ultimately derives from the threat of violence; but, he is a representative of an overtly fascist system of government that is being satirized to high heaven. The characters in the film, by and large, believe this; the filmmakers have a different view.
  • In Warm Bodies, the zombies are redeemed by The Power of Love. The bonies, not so much.


By Author:

  • George Orwell remarked in one of his essays that, "Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
  • One of H. Beam Piper's stories subverted Asimov's maxim, stating that violence is the last resort of the incompetent because "Only the incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it is usually too late to use anything, even prayer."
  • Harry Turtledove:
    • This trope was inverted in In the Presence of Mine Enemies when the quiet programmer is mocked by his supervisor for not having the conviction to go join the riots against a coup... and then once he's left alone changes a genealogical database and anonymously alerts the "good guys" to the "discovery" in a move which does far more to undermine the coup than any individual bottlethrower could imagine (and the POV characters who are protesting physically do little violence but simply shame the coup mooks into not killing them for hours until the mooks are EAGER to surrender to the "good guys" military forces).
    • Turtledove also has an Anvilicious short story (The Last Article) in which the Nazis take over India, and Mahatma Gandhi tries his nonviolent civil disobedience methods against them. It ends with his movement horribly crushed, and on his way to be executed Gandhi laments his mistake in assuming basic human decency on the part of the Nazis, the moral being that such methods can only hope to defeat an oppressor with a conscience.
    • He went one step further in his Worldwar series, suggesting that violence is not only the answer, but our salvation. Humanity's constant strife and warfare has made it so "perfidious" and battle-ready that we continually take the technologically advanced but strategically stagnant alien invaders by surprise with our double-dealing and resourcefulness. For example, pissing on a sensor and freaking out an analyst, who swore up and down that "4 billion Big Uglies" were coming right at them.
  • Ironically enough, many of the poems for children written by a Soviet writer Korney Chukowski feature this:
    • In "Tsokotuha the Fly", a hostile spider crashes a party which the eponimous fly hosts for other insects, and is about to kill Tsokotuha but then a courageous gnat fights the spider and kills him.
    • In "The Roach", a large roach claims to be able to swallow everybody and thus terrifies the other animals (including elephants) into submission. All attempts to reason either with the roach (to stop scaring the animals) or the animals (to stop beaing afraid of a mere roach) fail, after which a sparrow comes along and swallows the roach with a single bite.
    • In "Stolen Sun", The Sun is swallowed by a giant Crocodile, plunging the whole world into eternal darkness. The other animals don't feel strong enough to defeat the Crocodile and the strongest one - the giant Bear - is reluctant to fight. However after being to that the only way to find his missing children is to return the Sun, the Bear finally decides to challenge the Crocodile. After his last attempt to negotiate fails, the Bear attacks the Crocodile and and beats him up, until the latter is forced to release the Sun, restoring daylight. Afterwards, the Bear is lauded as a hero by all other animals.
    • Finally, "Barmalej". Said Barmalej is a mobster man who roams Africa and Eats Babies - baby animals at first, but the he tries to eat human children, too. He only changes after being Swallowed Whole by a crocodile (possibly the same one wrom the "Stolen Sun"). Barmalej is released alive, but swears to never harm another child (human or animal) ever again.
  • The moral of nearly any Vince Flynn book.

By Title:

  • In the Anita Blake series this is a recurring and controversial theme, especially as it's had a steady presence throughout the series as each new line Anita's willing to cross cuts her off from more of the "normal" world, and slowly pushes old friends and associates further away from her. The author's made comments to the general effect that while she likes and admires idealism enough to write it into characters, she can't manage enough personal belief in it to avoid this trope in her writing.
  • As expected, an integral part of The Art of War. However, Sun Tzu famously states that war with an enemy is the least favorable, last resort to achieving victory.
  • Discworld: Being a Technical Pacifist (albeit one who fights dirty), Sam Vimes frequently finds himself in situations where he is pressured to have to kill his enemies but tries to avoid it. The Fifth Elephant presents a good example, where Lady Margolotta, the mentor and/or pupil of Magnificent Bastard Lord Vetinari, shows her cunning credentials by aiding the villain so he will go after Vimes' wife, putting Vimes in a situation where it is apparent that he has no choice but to kill, knowing that the villain (a werewolf with Nigh-Invulnerability) will always come back against the ones he loves. Vimes does end up killing, fully aware of being set up by Lady Margolotta, and notes how he won't deliver a Bond One-Liner because he believes that it's the only thing separating self-defense and murder.
  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss concludes with
    But I've bought a big bat
    I'm all ready, you see.
    Now my troubles are going
    To have troubles with me!
  • In the novels In Death Ground and This Shiva Option by David Weber and Steve White, the invading aliens are an implacable hive mind. No negotiation was possible and the aliens had no desire to coexist. The aliens, in fact, didn't understand coexistence as a concept and were not interested in learning. The violent solution turned out to be the correct one.
  • Subverted for once in The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. The narrator spends most of the story rationalizing his killings, but through therapy realizes he was really just following his own psychoses.
  • A recurring theme of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, especially in the ages of very turbulent times.
    • In the backstory, while Earth was still a superpowers, the colonies first brought up the crimes and corruption going on in the government and military. None of this worked as the Terrans were either military lobbyists or financiers who did their did their damn hardest to keep themselves in power. Even those who brought up their war crimes were persecuted for libel due to the Earth and its military having absolute control over all government affairs. It ended with a bloody war for independence that crushed the Earth forces and reduced it to a single barely habitable pebble in the sky.
    • Zigzagged with the Alliance-Imperial War. There are those in the Alliance who believe that stopping the war would allow them to win against the Empire by rebuilding their economy and talent, with Reinhard admitting that such a feat would allow the similarly decaying adversary to collapse before them. However, these people either lack the ambition to take such power, including Yang Wenli, who would let the Alliance fall even when he had the chance to win. And those that do take actions are outnumbered by opportunistic politicians, their Black Shirt militia, and corrupt military elements that have no qualms with killing demonstrators. It takes Reinhard to clean up their mess throughout the second half of the series once he conquers the nation, both directly and indirectly, ruthlessly gunning down such corrupt and decaying elements where convenient.
  • In The Lost Regiment series, Vincent Hawthorne is a devout Quaker who enlisted in the Union army despite his church's pacifist objections to war, believing slavery to be a greater sin than warfare. Soon the conflict between his religious beliefs and military duty are put to the ultimate test.
  • Redwall. No matter how much the Abbot insists that Violence Is Wrong, Cluny's horde ends up being defeated by... violence. In fact, pretty much every book in the series has the message "violence is OK if you're killing evil creatures", and even among the normally peaceful Redwallers, only a few characters are ever bothered by having killed an enemy. And the ones that are bothered are usually instantly rounded on by the other characters, chastised for their softness/naivete.
  • Essentially the point of Starship Troopers. The book was about the question of what a citizen owed in exchange for his political privileges, as Heinlein points out that Americans do not earn their citizen status. Violence wasn't the answer provided society was well-governed, but violence was the ultimate, final way in which disputes were settled. Hence, all authorities ultimately must be backed by force or they are toothless. Heinlein's novel featured an Earth where nearly everyone was law-abiding, rights were extended to all regardless of race and gender (revolutionary in his time), and civil society was idealized. He contrasts this with a much-more-violent post-war collapse of civil order. Violence against the Bugs was inevitable because neither humanity nor the Bugs would cede their unlimited expansion throughout the universe. Violence is also used to convince the Skinnies to switch sides in the war. The point that violence is a means to an end, and not an end, is frequently brought up, only a bit less than the whole citizenship issue. Heinlein was preaching Clausewitz, not carnage.
    • In fact, citizenship could be earned by any form of civil service. Military service was simply the quickest and most prestigious route, with the much more chance of rising to political office later. Also, the government decides which form of service you get assigned (you can quit anytime outside of active combat, forfeiting the chance to earn full citizenship) ― thus, the chance of being assigned to the armed forces depends on just how much this trope applies to the current interstellar political situation.
  • This was a big theme of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, particularly Naked Empire, in which the pacifist Bandakar Empire had to be persuaded to fight the invading Order soldiers. The protagonist massacres pacifists "armed only with their hatred of moral clarity". Though it should be noted that the protestors weren't just shouting slogans; they were quite literally occupying the only road the army could use to reach any position from which they could fight effectively. In practical terms, they'd volunteered themselves as human shields.
  • Used in The Two Towers, both book and movie. In the movie, the Ents initially decide to not fight, but they change their minds after finding that Saruman had clear-cut a large section of the forest. It received lots of complaints about being pro-war. It was more subtle in the book, with Treebeard's line, "It is likely that we march to our doom, but if we stayed home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway."
    • Note that Tolkien was writing this during World War II, a war pretty much universally declared to be completely justified, in stark contrast to World War I in which Tolkien himself had fought. It's likely his intended message was that fighting is okay, if it's in a cause as justified as stopping the Nazis.
    • Not only that, Tolkien's Britain had seen a very active pacifist movement during the 1930s (in 1933, the Oxford Union debating society successfully carried the motion "this House will under no circumstances fight for King and country") along with numerous unsuccessful attempts to deal with the Nazis short of war. Doom, or at least war, did find them anyway.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bully Beatdown. Someone messing with you? Let's put him in a cage with a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.
  • In Chinese Paladin, Elder Shi is seen as a Knight Templar because of his insistence that nothing will be gained by diplomacy with Bai Yue; various characters, including the Nanzhao General, take the time to privately advise Ling'er differently. Elder Shi is later proved right, and there is a beautiful scene at his funeral where each of the dissenting characters apologizes and pledges to give the battle their all.
  • Cobra Kai dives into whether this is the case or not a lot. On one hand at school the only thing that solves Miguel's bullying problem is him kicking the living crap out of them in the lunch room, but on the other hand Johnny begins learning from Miguel that there's plenty of times where keeping calm and using words or wits is his best bet. Ultimately it tends to boil down to "violence sometimes really is the answer," with Daniel reflecting on how even Mr. Miyagi would resort to violence if necessary in spite of his insistence on avoiding fights, though the show is also not shy about showing the potential harsh consequences of resorting to violence even in spite of using it in self-defense or when it's justified.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor very frequently ends up killing lots of people/creatures to solve problems, (to the point that some fans have started using "genocide" as a verb because it happens so often) but, with a very few exceptions, he gives them a chance to withdraw peacefully first, and is much happier if a problem can be solved without anyone getting hurt. If his warnings are ignored, however, he shows no mercy, and afterwards seems OK with the ethical implications of wiping out a species in order to protect others.
    • Notorious old-school examples are "The Daleks", in which Ian has to teach the Thals anger, and "The Dominators", which was deliberately written as a hippie-punching allegory of how pacifists are stupid cowards who will get exterminated by the first non-pacifists they meet.
    • Tom Baker has expressed his misery about this in interviews fairly often, complaining that it was wrong for Doctor Who to idealise intelligence, love and pacifism, and yet so often end stories with the Doctor blowing the aliens up. He once even said, likely jokingly, he'd prefer it to be more violent to the point where it became obviously fantastical (the example he gave was a Gory Discretion Shot of him slaughtering 25 people with a sword) if the plots were going to use violence as a solution anyway.
    • Throughout "City of Death", the Doctor is constantly frustrated by PI Duggan's tendency to use violence as a first resort, frequently knocking people unconscious when the Doctor is trying to get answers from them. At the end of the story, when Scaroth is trying to change history so the human race never exists, Duggan stops him by punching him unconscious. The Doctor looks for a moment like he's going to disapprove, then cheerily declares it "the most important punch in history".
    • A notable example of this is the Doctor killing both of all the crazy Time Lords and Daleks at the end of the last great Time War. The moral is proved in the case of the Daleks throughout the show, and in the case of the Time Lords in "The End of Time, Part Two". This moral is then entirely inverted in "The Day of the Doctor". Talk about changing your mind.
    • "Midnight": The Doctor spends the first part of the episode trying to prevent the creature that has broken into the bus being thrown out of the airlock. He ends up almost being thrown out of the airlock himself and is only saved when the person originally possessed by the creature is thrown out by the hostess.
    • "Spyfall": When an entire roomful of people is being held hostage by the Master at TCE-point, Ada Lovelace (well, she's not named Lovelace yet) takes advantage of the villain's focus on the Doctor to drive him off with a ball-bearing machine gun and experimental grenades ― there's an inventers' fair going on.
  • In Family Matters, Steve Urkel would usually try to find non-violent solutions to problems. Once in a while, though, that wasn't possible, and he would have to turn himself into Bruce Lee.
  • Farscape
    • "The Peacekeeper Wars": Our heroes try to run away from the conflict and when they realize they can't do that, they spend the bulk of the miniseries attempting to facilitate a diplomatic solution. In the end, though, the only thing that can stop the bloodshed is more bloodshed—a wormhole weapon destructive enough to force the two sides into accepting the diplomatic solution.
    • Also many of the Zhaan spotlight plots have her succeeding through physical or psychic violence despite her pacifist ideals, especially the Maldis episodes and "Look at the Princess". She was almost always tormented by the decision, and at least the first time it happened she spends the next few episodes pretty bitter about it and struggling to regain her inner peace.
  • In The Good Fight, Jay punches a Neo-Nazi in the face after the latter makes one too many racist comments. This, along with the Neo-Nazi's white supremacist buddies getting dox'd, leads to a full-scale riot taking place in the parking lot of a polling center. Amidst the chaos, Jay gives a fantastic monologue on the subject to the audience.
    Jay: Is it all right to hit a Nazi unprovoked? I was always taught to never throw the first punch. Never instigate. Defend, but don't attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview, and I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered, like he should be considered part of the conversation, like Neo-Nazism was just one political point of view. And then I realized there's no better way to show some speech is not equal. Some speech requires a more... visceral response. It's like Overton's window. That's the term for which ideas are tolerated in public discourse. Well, Overton's window doesn't mean shit unless it comes with some enforcement. So, yeah, this is enforcement. It's time to punch a few Nazis.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has a variant on this in Enemy of the Bane. Sarah Jane tells Clyde, "There are better ways to solve a problem than guns," only for two of the Bane to get killed by Kaagh's blaster and the Brigadiers gun-cane. Seems like having a gun around might have its uses...
  • In The Young Ones, Vyvyan argues that violence is a necessity to create interesting stories when it comes to action narratives. He points out how incredibly boring Dan Dare and Batman comics would be if the heroes never threw any punches, and instead got along well with their Rogues Galleries.
  • Young Sheldon: In "Pongo Pygmaeus and a Culture that Encourages Spitting", after constantly being made fun of for being a girl that plays baseball, Missy finally retaliates by beating up the opposing pitcher that tried to purposely hit her with the ball. The only one not happy about this is Mary, while everyone else cheers her on and tells her how proud of her they are afterwards. Missy also states she beat up the girls at school who were making fun of her off-screen, ensuring they will never make fun of her again, and making everyone even more proud of her.

  • The Kenny Rogers song "Coward of the County" covers this topic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted has something of a theme that most problems in Creation can be solved, at least temporarily, by punching the right being in the face. The main risk is that today's necessary puncher becomes tomorrow's punchee. Exalted also tends to assert that violence can "solve" problems, but will often create bigger problems in the process. For Example:
    • Going to war against the Primordials and murdering them won Creation for humankind. But it also permanently broke the cycle of reincarnation.
    • The Usurpation saved the world from the Solar Exalted. But while the Shogunate's warring states weren't as dangerous to the world as the reality-warping Lawgivers, they still weren't GOOD rulers, and the Terrestrial Exalted couldn't keep up the fantastic technology of the First Age
      • And then the two combine: the wrathful dead primordials imbue the ghosts of murdered Solars with power to create the Deathlords, who to date have come the closest to killing everything in the world..
  • Warhammer 40,000: say what you will about the Imperium being shortsighted, but everything REALLY IS trying to kill you and you CAN kill just about anything with enough brutal firepower. Can, but probably won't...
    • Zig-zagged in most of the stories around the Tyranids (and Tau). Usually, violence is utterly futile against the Tyranid (Space Bugs/Mammals/Reptiles/Something numerous enough to take down the armies and navies of entire systems just by clogging vehicles with their corpses), which forces anyone hoping to stand against them to produce alternate methods. Of course, these "alternate methods" usually consist of either poisoning them or diverting their attention. Still, Science Really is the Answer!
    • It happens more often in battles with small splinter fleets. Major Hive Fleets so far were destroyed by concentrating all available space faring firepower from several (dozens, sometimes hundreds) of sectors, craftworlds, tombworlds, septs and/or Xeno Empires. Hive Fleet Leviathan was indeed lured away from it's path to Terra with the help of Science, but the exact effect of this operation is debatable. Sooner or later (most likely, sooner), Orks or Tyranids will emerge victorious (most likely, Tyranids) and stronger than ever. And whoever wins this fight, it is the Imperium that loses the most.

    Video Games 

In General:

By Title:

  • In Colobot, there is a level where, due to concerns from the Earth's animal rights organizations, you are forced to use a bot that deals with the hostile giant insects in a non-lethal manner, so that you can retrieve the Black Box they are guarding. In literally the next level, your base is under attack from the same insects, and your orders are to forgo any attempts at pacifism and just shoot them into oblivion. The issue of pacifism is never brought up again afterwards.
  • In Destiny, this is generally Cayde-6's response to everything in the parts where he plays Mission Control - particularly when you're fighting the Hive and the Taken, both of which are species who run on strange eldritch space-magics. Cayde's solution to alien necromancers and the twisted spectres of various creatures who've been broken and recreated by the living embodiment of pure interdimensional evil is just keep shooting them until they go away, and it works like a charm, every time.
  • In Dragon Age II, this is averted. Killing Orsino and Meredith does secure the survival of Hawke and his/her True Companions, but it doesn't prevent the Mage-Templar war.
  • The Fire Emblem franchise often highlights all the negative aspects of perpetual wars, but still enforce this trope. Early chapters may have the main Lord of that game kindly ask a group of bandits or small militia to stop hurting people or else. They refuse, and immediately die, all while the Lord continues to protest that War Is Hell.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden provides an interesting juxtaposition. Both Alm and Celica qualify. Both avoid violence whenever possible, but when it comes to violence it solves everything. Despite what both of them initially claimed upon reuniting for the first time since childhood and what caused their initial schism, Alm -who usually chooses fighting, similar to most Lord in the series- is often put in situations where Violence is the Only Option, yet would rather not have his and enemy soldiers die pointlessly, while Celica -who holds pacifism as part of her creed, after Mila's teachings- has no problem killing whoever gets in her way. As the game progresses, Alm grows into a more Reluctant Warrior and nearly loses his mind when he kills Emperor Rudolf, who was actually his father and then Berkut, in self defense, after learning they were cousins. At the end of the game Alm seems noticeably shaken by the war while Celica is fine. In Shadows of Valentia, Alm's voice actor Kyle McCarley sells off his character development with a progressively more brooding voice as the game goes on.
    • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Ike and part of the Greil Mercenaries are assigned as the rear guard for the retreating Laguz Alliance when a senators' henchmen are sent to attack them. Ike kindly asks them to leave because of the ceasefire and when they refuse, he more or less shrugs and says their funeral.
    • Zigzagged in Fire Emblem: Awakening. Chrom's internal struggle pits his sister Emmeryn's pacifistic ideals against the need to wage war on those who would bring harm upon his kingdom. Pacifism was part of the answer to defeat Gangrel, but it had to be backed up with his violent removal from power.
      Chrom: My sister wished for our people to know peace, Gangrel. But as long as you draw breath, it can never come.
    • Fire Emblem Fates zigzags this as well, at least in the Conquest route. Unlike with Birthright and Revelations, Corrin does not want to kill, and is noted many times to avoid killing as much as possible. While it initially works out, the possessed corpse of the king of Nohr and adoptive father Garon has their pacified foes executed in front of them. This has a heavy toll on them - especially when they're finally forced to kill - but they do continue to try it to the very end.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Flame Emperor firmly believes that the corrupt social order of Fódlan can only be demolished through the violent overthrow of Archbishop Rhea and the Church of Seiros, the continent's spiritual leaders. Upon learning that the Flame Emperor is actually Edelgard, you can either agree and side with her if you're a Black Eagle and have met certain requirements, or side with Rhea if you don't meet the requirements or just plain don't believe her rhetoric. Either way, whichever one you side against refuses any pleas to surrender and can only be removed via force.
  • In Norse Era of God of War, Kratos genuinely wants to not fight and be left alone... so naturally, he keeps coming up against enemies who simply won't stop until he's dead or they are, so he's forced to kill them after they reject his attempts at peace- and usually threaten to kill his son, for good measure. Baldur in the first game is too far gone to listen to reason and refuses to stop trying to kill Freya, and Heimdall in the second game outright refuses Kratos's attempts to spare him due to Don't You Dare Pity Me!, forcing Kratos to kill him.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: In La Cité des Cloches, when Riku asks Esmeralda if Judge Frollo was always an evil bigot and requests to know where he could be located so that he could speak to him, it is subtly implied that Riku intends to try to reason with Frollo, having fallen into the darkness once himself. However, when Riku sees Frollo trying to burn down a villager's home because the inhabitant was suspected of harboring gypsies, he concludes that Frollo is beyond saving and will have to be stopped by force.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, an attempt to Solid Snake your way through the first castle without hurting the guards by exploiting their line of sight patterns works fine until Link gets to a locked door. To unlock the door, Link must go down to the basement and use his sword to slaughter a guard for the key.
  • Mega Man X had always tried to be a pacifist, but he quickly concluded (or at least, decided before the first game) that fighting was necessary to bring about peace, to the point that he states that he is not afraid to fight his best friend Zero to stop him from getting corrupted in X5, and his enemy Sigma if he keeps showing up to stop the reconstruction of the world in X6. Then he suddenly made a decision to become an Actual Pacifist in X7, and players were given Axl as a result) Once you save enough Reploids or beat all 8 Mavericks however, X decides (again), that yes, violence is necessary. Then he becomes playable.
    • His reasoning is somewhat sound: he doesn't want to fight anymore because he's tired of killing (he's spent four of the last six games fighting without any direct correlation to helping people that he can see). Given his power, he's very good at killing, and he decides that his abilities and hesitance are better used in more of a leadership role (where he plays the devil's advocate more often than not, arguing that violence is not the answer). After you rescue enough Reploids, he realizes there are a lot of people in the line of fire in what's essentially a custody dispute gone nuclear, and decides to fight to save them, not to stop the fighting (that's incidental).
    • This stance is better seen in X8, where X is clearly displeased by the start of yet another conflict started by Sigma, but immediately jumps into the fray without the slightest word of complaint, as he knows that a lack of involvement will only end with more innocents in the crossfire and he doesn't want the situation to snowball. In fact, when Lumine (a New Generation Reploid able to go Maverick at will and the real mastermind of X8) tries his hand at psychological warfare and seems to succeed at getting X and Zero to hesitate, it is a bullet from Axl that rouses the two out of their brief Heroic BSoD and the epilogue has Zero reassuring X that fighting is necessary, not only to combat Mavericks but to Screw Destiny when it comes to the evolution Lumine spoke of.
  • Phantom Brave has the Big Bad Demon Sulphur get pushed out of the dimension by the Power of Friendship, sacrifice, tears and blood. Then he just comes back at full power as a Superboss and it turns out Level Grinding and hitting him really, really, really hard works better.
  • Joked about by Ultimate!Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
    Ultimate!Spider-Man: Violence is never the answer. Unless the question is 'How do I beat the bad guys?'
  • Suikoden II is probably one of the best examples of an exception. In most endings, the major conflict is resolved just by successfully seizing an important location. In the best ending, the more personal conflict for Riou is resolved by confronting Jowy at the stone where they promised to meet back up at the beginning of the game and allowing Jowy to beat him to death. He gets better.
  • Sorey spends Tales of Zestiria as a Technical Pacifist, using his power to beat hellions down and purge the malevolence that had transformed them, but refusing to kill. He is forced to question whether his unwillingness to kill is really the best way, especially when he has party members who will finish enemies off, even right in front of him. It's not really whether he's right or wrong, though, but whether the strength of his convictions is firm enough to handle the day he has to kill someone - particularly the Lord of Calamity - without shaking him so much that it lets malevolence infect him. Sorey ultimately kills the Lord of Calamity without falling to malevolence, doing it because he understands there truly is no other option and not because he discarded his principles for the sake of revenge.
  • There're some bosses in the pacifist route of Undertale where violence is simply your only option to continue. However, this doesn't mean you can't spare them or show mercy; you just need to fight normally until you get your scripted opportunity.
  • One wins U.S. Men's Hockey Team Olympic Challenge!, an Interactive Fiction game, by vandalizing the Olympic Village. The motto of the game is literally "Violence really is the answer to this one," a parody of a traditional error message stating the opposite.
  • Zombie Army Trilogy: Invoked in the backstory for the player character Dr. Efram Schweiger, a German scientist who signed up for Hitler's occult research rather than be deployed to the frontline due to his pacifistic belief. After inadvertently helping to cause the Zombie Apocalypse, he has forsaken his pacifism, because the willingness to kill is his only means of surviving when confronted by demon-possessed flesh-eating zombie Nazis.

  • Bob and George:
  • Joe vs. Elan School relates a very, very twisted Real Life example. "The Ring" forces a rebellious kid to put on boxing gloves and fight other kids who are chosen to represent Elan, and it is meant to teach students that Elan will always win. It's another tool that Elan uses to not only demoralize students, but to allow students to brutalize their peers for the sadistic glee of their captors. What's worse, no one is allowed to opt out.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons is set in a multiverse that was born in conflict, where heaven exploded into civil war 4,000 years prior. The remaining seven gods will murder anyone in their way, and their scriptures are centered around violence. In-universe scripture describes violence as 'the Ultimate Art'.
    • In the side-story Prince Kassardis and His Three (Ax-Crazy) Wives, violence is necessary for peace. The trick is, it doesn't have to be your violence...
  • In Rusty and Co., Mimic gets Good Angel, Bad Angel—both of whom advise him that Violence Really Is the Answer.
  • A big theme of Schlock Mercenary—when it comes down to it, the galaxy is best protected by heavily armed (and vaguely sociopathic) mercenaries who laugh at collateral damage. Some of the Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries discuss the subject.
    Maxim 6: If violence wasn't your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.
    Maxim 13: Do unto others.
    Maxim 27: Don't be afraid to be the first to resort to violence.
  • The "That Which Redeems" arc in Sluggy Freelance has a morally complex take on this. When the demons of the Dimension of Pain invade the ridiculously pacifistic Dimension of Lame, nobody is willing to violently oppose them except for Torg, who is from the main story dimension. It is pointed out that left to its own devices, the DoL would be a paradise, but the invasion makes violence necessary.
  • Invoked in A Softer World:
    I always thought violence didn't solve anything. Until one day it did.

    Web Original 
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Red vs. Blue. A newly-villainous Agent Washington needs to get information out of a group of aliens and is fully prepared to simply force it out of them, but Doc convinces him to try negotiation first. The aliens mock and insult him for it. Washington's response to this says it all:
  • Phase of the Whateley Universe comes from a super-wealthy family where violence is never the answer, because they have security forces and lawyers and layer after layer of protection from the real world. But then Phase manifests as a mutant and gets kicked out of the family, at which point he has to live in a superhero universe where the appropriate response is often an energy blast to the face. He still has trouble with this, although in stories like "Ayla and the Networks" he demonstrates that sometimes the answer is months of scheming and sneakiness beforehand.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time takes this trope and runs with it. A lot of times, Finn and Jake just solve something by beating or threatening to beat the crap out of it. It's even the aesop for the episode, "His Hero", when Finn is unable to learn the opposite of this. The hilarious part is that "Sometimes violence can solve all your problems" is the secondary Aesop for the episode. The big lesson that Jake and Finn learn is "Never listen to old people," taught to them by a little old lady whom Finn rescues with his fists of righteous anger.
    • The plot of Crystals Have Power revolves around Jake accidentally hurting Finn, which reminds him of a time where his father told him to hurt everyone. He decides that he doesn't want to use violence to solve problems anymore. Unfortunately, Finn is captured by crystal soldiers who will turn him into a crystal, and Jake is the only one who can defeat them. In the end, Jake gets a vision of his late father, who reveals that Jake wasn't paying attention to what he was really trying to say: Jake must hurt everyone who is evil. Jake then "snaps out of it" and easily beats the crystal men.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the episode "Bully for Steve," Stan starts bullying Steve relentlessly in an effort to toughen him up. While Francine initially insists that violence isn't the answer, when she finds out that Stan is the one doing the bullying, she quickly changes her mind. Steve ultimately solves the problem by hiring Stan's old childhood bully, Stelio Kontos, to beat Stan senseless until Stan agrees to stop.
    • In "Cock of the Sleepwalk" Stan tallys his 100th kill (a count that includes a fellow agent he refused to donate bone marrow to despite being a perfect match). This triggers his "Good Side," a personality that activates when Stan falls asleep and performs incredibly generous acts. Additonally, the lack of sleep and his Good Side's machinations prevent Stan from killing. Stan invites his family and every friend his Good Side made to a pancake restaraunt he knows a Belgian Waffle Suicide Bomber will strike and falls asleep when the terrorist arrives. His Good Side tries to use reason, then non-lethal force, to stop the terrorist, but is finally forced to brutally beat him to death, realizing that sometimes killing is necessary and Stan returns to normal.
  • Animaniacs did this in the episode Bully for Skippy. Slappy Squirrel's nephew is being horribly bullied at school, and his counselor keeps suggesting all the "solutions" Real Life counselors give: ignore the bully, try to befriend them, inform the bully that they've hurt your feelings, etc. Skippy just gets beat up worse and worse until he teams up with Aunt Slappy and breaks out the Cartoon Violence and dynamite... which oddly reforms the bully into a good citizen.
    • It seems people agree that this may be Truth in Television, since most of the YouTube comments (prior to the video being taken down) say that the counselor's offered approaches rarely work and often only make the bully worse, as seen in the cartoon. For those who haven't seen the particular episode, the solutions, such as "Ignore the bully," "Be a friend to the bully," and "Try to invoke the bully's empathy," are based mostly in quite discredited Freudian Excuses used to explain bullying, such as low self-esteem. Bullies actually tend to have high self-esteem.
    • That episode was also a Take That! towards Moral Guardians and the FCC's then newly-instituted E/I laws (one of the killers of Saturday Mornings); throughout the episode, both the aforementioned counselor and FCC chairman Reef Blunt try to rein in Slappy's predilection for violence, and they send her a machine that eliminates violence, and she spends most of the episode setting it up. It turns out to be a machine that makes all cartoon violence happen offscreen- and of course, the counselor and Blunt are subjected to it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender zig-zagged this in the last few episodes: Aang speaks with his past lives, and each one tells him, indirectly, that killing Ozai is justified if only because they can offer no other solution to him—even fellow Perfect Pacifist Avatar Yangchen tells him that as Avatar, the well-being of the people supersedes his own spiritual needs and ethical code, and he must do whatever it takes to protect the world. Then Aang goes into the Avatar State, beats the ever living snot out of Ozai, and refuses to complete the finishing move. THEN Aang uses energybending to save the day without killing.
  • Handled really strangely in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Dr. Henry Pym, the hero Ant-Man, is a strong believer in the ideals of being a pacifist and makes it very clear that he hates being a superhero because it means he not only cannot indulge his truest love, scientific research, but he is forced to fight super-villains, whom he would much rather focus on trying to rehabilitate after they are captured. In contrast, the rest of the Avengers have no qualms about fighting supervillains, viewing it as an immediate solution to the immediate problem of "this guy is trying to blow up the city". Things come to a header in the Ultron storyarc of the first season, where Dr. Pym tries desperately to stop a fight between the Avengers and the Serpent Society in the middle of a hostage situation; the end result is that Hawkeye gets hurt and several of the Avengers get mad at him—his Love Interest, Janet Dyne, The Wasp, outright chews him out for it. In response, he quits the team. Team leader Tony Stark, Iron Man, views it for the best, but he does not condemn Dr. Pym's decision, noting that he has never truly been happy with the life of the superhero and that it simply isn't a calling for him. In the second season, Dr. Pym temporarily returns as the far more violent vigilante Yellowjacket, having taken a severe shift in bad attitude whilst he was gone.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, one episode featured the Atom and Aquaman teaming up to save Batman. The Atom, a scientist, is off put by Aquaman's tendencies and tries to solve the problem with science and precision... until he gets sufficiently angry and punches cancer. This works.
  • The Hero Factory: Invasion from Below special seems to at first play the "violence is bad" moral straight when Breez calms down the beast queen by offering peace. But, due to a misunderstanding, the beasts attack again, and this time the Heroes have no option but to beat them up, indirectly killing them.
  • In Justice League at one point the League has to go up against a seemingly invincible Magitech robot that gets stronger the more aggressive people get around it. The same episode also includes the only appearance of two superhero brothers, Hawk and Dove. Hawk tries to break it, Dove points out that violence doesn't always work. They end up having to go with the latter's plan eventually and the robot depowers from the lack of aggression. Later, the robot reappears without this weakness and suddenly it turns out you can just break the robot. Guess violence really does solve your problems.
  • The Simpsons:
  • One episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was spent mostly trying to convince a tribe of Actual Pacifists that the Separatists were about to test a new superweapon on their planet whether the villagers were there or not (although the village was something of a bonus), the Jedi did not lead the Separatists there, and politely asking the Separatists to leave was not going to have any effect. One of the elders of the village refuses to listen and makes the argument that while violence might/would save their lives they would be sacrificing the very heart of who they are as a people by giving up pacifism. Then again, without their lives, who they were as a people is a lot less valuable.
  • Steven Universe invoked this trope, with a tragicomic subversion, in So Many Birthdays. Steven has lost control of his shapeshifting abilities and is dying because of the Rapid Aging that ensues. After everything else fails, Afro Asskicker Garnet grits her teeth and violently shakes frail old Steven. When the other Gems pry her away, she is very lost and seems to be in a shocked daze. She explains her actions by invoking this trope: "I thought violence would be the answer."
    • Steven also, reluctantly, comes to a related conclusion as his character arc goes on: while he's an All-Loving Hero who would rather not fight, who has more than once made an enemy into a friend, there are times it may be necessary. He'll be as empathetic as possible, but if it's the only way to stop a Gem monster or Homeworld invader, he'll do what it takes to stop them. He won't like it, he'll try and do it as ethically as possible, but he'll do it. In one episode, he's told that Jasper and Peridot are dangerous and cruel, and that means he and Lapis can't fight them:
      Steven: That's why we have to fight them!
  • In Time Squad it's official from the start of the series that this is Buck Tuddrussel's go-to philosophy— punch first, ask questions later! Otto at first tries to intervene at every chance, trying to explain that most problems that the Squad comes across could easily be solved with their words and can be manipulated into an agreeable compromise. But eventually its shown that there's just some problems in life that can't just be "talked" into fixing, sometimes a little butt kicking goes a long way.

    Real Life 
  • When asked in 1944 if the passive resistance he employed against British colonial rule in India (and had previously recommended for the oppressed populations under Nazi rule) could defeat Hitler and the Nazis, Mahatma Gandhi himself admitted that he wasn't sure, and even if it could, "Not without defeats." He admitted that the British were not bloodthirsty in general, and had serious qualms about shooting unarmed civilians; the same could not be said of the Nazis. However, he was noted various times of various quotes about violence to prevent subjugation of a race or nation and to defend oneself in a dangerous situation. In particular he once stated "Better to risk using violence a thousand times than have an entire race emasculated." Gandhi was a pacifist, yes, but he wasn't naive, and knew that his ideological opposites didn't coach from his playbook.
    • Let there be no mistake, Gandhi was unambiguously and totally against military opposition to the Nazis in WW2, and though he expressed sympathy for the Jews he went so far as to say they should have "offered themselves to the butcher's knife" and "thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs" on the grounds that this would have "aroused the world and the people of Germany". However he did recruit Indians for combat service for Britain in World War 1.
  • A few of the above fictional examples are loosely based on the 1835 conquest of the Moriori by Māori invaders. They refused to abandon their principles of nonviolence, and as a result were effortlessly annihilated without resistance.
  • US Army Sgt Alvin York was America's most decorated soldier of the first World War. But prior to the war, he had belonged to a pacifist religious order called "Churches of Christ in Christian Union", which opposed all forms of violence. When York registered for the draft, he responded to a question asking if he claimed any exemption with the statement "Yes. Don't Want To Fight." Later in life, he said "I was worried clean through. I didn't want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible." Never the less, his objections were rejected by the Army and he was called up to fight. Near the end of his basic training, York was considering desertion, but a frank conversation with his commanding officer, G. Edward Buxton Jr, who was also a deeply religious man, convinced him to stay. Granted 10 days of leave after he completed training, he returned to the Army convinced that God meant for him to fight and was as committed to his service as he had previously been to pacifism.
  • The Quaker religion is a pacifist Christian religious sect. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker faith, once said "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretence whatever; this is our testimony to the whole world." Yet during the The American Civil War, thousands of Quakers volunteered for military service in the Union, some swept up by the patriotic fervor gripping the nation, and some on grounds that the evil of slavery was a greater sin than war (The Quaker sect was deeply committed to abolitionism). A Quaker minister, in a eulogy delivered at the funeral of a fallen Quaker soldier, stated the sentiment felt by many of his faith: "To make war in his country forever impossible, by eradicating human slavery, its permanent cause, he took up arms. There seemed no other way of doing it. He would thankfully have used other means, had other means been permitted... You need not be afraid of shocking your principles by receiving him here from battle ... . Do we hate war less in these days than formerly? Nay, Friends, we hate it, if possible, a thousand times more, when we see them, father and son, doing such deeds as this."
  • Yagyū Munenori, samurai and martial arts instructor to the Japanese Tokugawa Shogunate, made this the general theme of his "A Treatise on Family Traditions." Divided into two parts, "the Life Giving Sword," and the "Killing Sword," the book is as much about good governance as it is about swordsmanship (understandable, given who his students were). As he put it, "if thousands are being harmed and oppressed by a single villain, then killing that one villain will bring life to his victims. Thus, the sword that kills can also be the sword that brings life." He presumably drew inspiration from the Buddhist teachings of the philosopher Huisi, who wrote, "if Enlightening beings practice mundane tolerance and allow evil to flourish, such that true teachings are extinguished, then those "Enlightening beings" are in fact devils."
  • The modern world is essentially built on violence, or at least the threat of violence. Any faction who can maintain monopoly on violence will become de facto state, free to enforce their rules on the populace. These rules, in turn, can be codified into law.


Video Example(s):


Lethal Weapons - Fight!

After countless anger management techniques, the long-simmering frustrations of the Griffins with one another finally explode and the entire family resolve their anger by having the kind of knock-down drag-out fight that would do most street fighters proud.

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4.6 (10 votes)

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Main / SignatureScene

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