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Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?
aka: Why Dont Ya Just Shoot Him

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One-Armed Man: I've been looking for you for 8 months. Whenever I should have had a gun in my right hand, I thought of you. Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me. I had lots of time to learn to shoot with my left.
[Tuco kills him with the gun he has hidden in the foam of his bubble bath]
Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

Villains frequently find themselves in conundrums that could easily be solved by finding the right person and putting a bullet in the offender's head. But for whatever reason, some villains continue to refrain from taking the pragmatic approach and won't put said bullet in said offender's head.

There may or may not be some Watsonian/in-story justification for this failure to take the direct approach. However, the Doylist/real-life explanation can always boil down to "because if he did just shoot him, the story would be much shorter and the bad guys would win."

Sub-Tropes include:

  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The villain has the opportunity to kill the good guy, but leaves the good guy alive anyway, sometimes for no adequately-explained reason.
  • Complexity Addiction: The villain does try to kill the hero, but employs some ridiculously elaborate (and thus easily-foiled) method, rather than just shooting them.
  • Evil Gloating: Even when the villain intends to kill the hero in a straightforward fashion, they still feel the need to start bragging about it immediately beforehand, thus giving the hero time to escape or fight back.
  • Fair-Play Villain: The villain deliberately gives the hero a way to survive, specifically because they think shooting the hero on the spot would be dishonorable, unsporting, or less entertaining.
  • Just Hit Him: When a physically-imposing villain does try to kill the hero in a hands-on fashion, he opts to pick the hero up menacingly and throw them across the room a bunch, even though he could crush him or kill him with a few punches.
  • Mook Chivalry: A group of villains have the numerical advantage over the hero, and would surely win if they all decided to fight them at the same time, but instead choose to take their turns, during which everyone else waits for them to finish, giving the hero a chance to pick them all off one after the other.
  • No Sneak Attacks: The villain never attacks from stealth without some kind of warning sign, and never attacks at times where the hero would be vulnerable (such as while they're asleep or knocked out).
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The villain refuses to let the hero die in any way except by their hand, and even saving the hero from certain doom, even though the other villain would just as easily dispose of their nemesis otherwise.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: When challenged, the villain provides a sound reason for not Just Shooting Him.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Someone in the story points out that the above options are stupid and that a simpler, more direct solution exists — namely, by just shooting him. The villain may or may not take their advice.
  • Where's the Fun in That?: The villain gets a lot of glee from tormenting the hero that killing them right then and there wouldn't be as exciting.

Compare Third Act Stupidity, Contractual Genre Blindness and Kill Him Already! (when the good guys are urging a quick kill). Someone might invoke this trope by using a Scheherezade Gambit. Contrast Combat Pragmatist and No-Nonsense Nemesis. Not to be confused with Just Eat Gilligan, although there can be overlap. Also contrast Once is Not Enough when the hero KO's the villain and then chooses to flee instead of finishing him off.

No examples, please. If you, the viewer, are wondering why someone won't just shoot someone else, Headscratchers is the place to ask.

Alternative Title(s): Why Dont Ya Just Shoot Him


The New Batman Adventures

The Joker explaining to Harley how he can't just simply shoot Batman, it must be a masterpiece!

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5 (70 votes)

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Main / WhyDontYouJustShootHim

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