Stating the Simple Solution

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A number of examples, like the ones for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appear to have originally been written for Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and still read as though they're on that page.

There is a problem. A dramatic, elaborate, and dangerous (and sometimes, pretty darn cool) solution is proposed to solve it. Then some other jerk points out that a much simpler Mundane Solution exists.

Most often, it's a villain (usually of the Diabolical Mastermind or Evil Overlord variety) proposing the complicated scheme, and it is a Genre Savvy minion (or occasionally even The Hero himself) questioning their boss's grade-A Bond Villain Stupidity. However, it's not unheard of for Dangerously Genre Savvy villains to brag about the fact that they're eschewing elaborate Death Traps and intend to just shoot the hero. And sometimes, it's a Hypercompetent Sidekick wondering why the hero is adhering to Honor Before Reason.

See also Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and Lampshade Hanging. If someone actually does the simple solution, Reality Ensues.

Examples of Stating the Simple Solution include:


  • As part of an ad campaign for the introduction of Netflix to Canada, one commercial features a boy watching a Bar Brawl scene in a Western on TV. At the end of the commercial, when two of the cowboys are dueling hand-to-hand on the second floor, the boy remarks, "They know that they have guns, right?"

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragonball Z, King Cold advises his son Frieza that revenge would be easier by just blowing up the Earth from space. Frieza however rejects this notion, stating that he wants to see Goku suffer. One episode later Frieza is killed.
  • Mazinger Z: In one episode The Dragon Baron Ashura captured Kouji and Mazinger-Z and gave him the "join-us-or-die" choice. After the Kouji's predictable answer, Ashura sentenced him to death, starting a bunch of giant power saws and drills to cut Mazinger-Z to pieces. The another Dragon Count Brocken was watching the scene through a monitor and he stated Ashura beat around the bush too much and complicated things unnecessarily, and shooting Kabuto would be easier and quicker (to be fair, Ashura had not that option available in the moment).
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Shishio and Kenshin are having their climactic duel. Both of them are severely injured and weakened, and Shishio's 15 minute-time limit for fighting has elapsed. Yumi (Shishio's lover) and Houji (Shishio's right-hand man) are watching, and Houji has a rifle. Yumi asks Houji why he just doesn't shoot Kenshin... and Houji throws his gun away, on the grounds of his belief that Lord Shishio will win. He doesn't.
  • Code Geass offers a non-fatal version: when Lelouch learns that his best friend is the pilot of the Humongous Mecha that's thwarted him at every turn, his partner C.C. asks why he doesn't just use his Geass to make said friend join La Résistance. She guesses that it's either pride, sentimentality, or distaste for robbing another person of their free will; Lelouch responds that it's all three.
  • At the climax of the Non-Indicative First Episode (filming a movie) of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagato confronts Itsuki, who refuses to join forces with her. Nagato's shoulder-mounted cat suddenly starts talking, asking why she doesn't just use mind control on the guy already, since judging by what she's shown so far it ought to be well within her powers. But that's not in the script, so after a scramble to shut him up Nagato has her final battle with Mikuru.
  • Full Metal Panic Fumoffu inverts the trope -- ("No, you can't just shoot him!") -- when Sôsuke is challenged to a no-holds-barred martial arts battle and, after being warned by his opponent not to pull any punches, calmly shoots the guy with a rubber bullet. Once it's explained to him that using a gun isn't allowed, he repeats the performance with his next opponent by gassing him with a fire extinguisher—and when it's further explained to him that he's supposed to be fighting solely hand-to-hand, he downs his third opponent via a Hey, Catch! with a grenade followed by several Groin Attacks, explaining afterwards that the pin was still in the grenade, and clearly never quite grasping the concept of a "fair fight" at all.
  • Practically said verbatim in Gantz. Some of the recruits have difficulty being willing to do what they're tasked with, and pay the price for it.
  • Sort of inverted in chapter 54 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, although the phrase is there almost verbatim. Ed and Ling are discussing how best to attack the Big Bad. Ling seems to think it's a better idea to take on the Mooks first, since their enemy clearly outmatches them. Edward would rather go to the point. They share this exchange:

Ling: Haven't you heard the saying, "if you want to shoot the leader, first aim for his horse"?!
Edward: If you want to shoot the leader, then you should just SHOOT HIM!!
Ling: (thinking) Is he stupid...?


Light: What are you doing, hurry up and write his name down!... Now's the time to kill him! Kill him right now!!

  • A variant appears in Bleach. During the beginning of the Hueco Mundo arc, the Big Bad sends one of his minions, Ulquiorra, to Earth to antagonize Ichigo and test his Power Level. After slapping Ichigo around a bit and leaving him in the dust, Ulquiorra reports back to the Big Bad that Ichigo is Not Worth Killing. Another of the Big Bad's minions, Grimmjow, gets annoyed and demands they just kill him anyway to be sure. Grimmjow eventually goes over his boss' head and hunts down Ichigo on his own, but the Big Bad reins him in before he can finish him off: Turns out the Big Bad had a secret plan in store for the hero.

Comic Books

  • In the DC Universe, the third Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) has as villains a race of evil aliens called the Reach, led by the Negotiator. The first thing said by the Negotiator's Dragon is "Why don't we just kill him?" to which the Negotiator replies, "No. Not without study."
  • An early story of ROM Spaceknight reverses this trope: After Rom is captured alive by some Dire Wraith scientists, they try to use the hero as a test subject. The Big Bad who commands them will have none of this and orders Rom killed as he is way too dangerous to keep alive. He still escapes in time, though.
  • Lampshaded in the following exchange from one of Tharg's Future Shocks from 2000 AD, written by Alan Moore, about a school that teaches its students how to be a proper villain.

Mr. Dreadspawn: Now you have the hero in your power at last. What do you do, Doctor Devastation?
Doctor Devastation: Uhh... Shoot him?
Mr. Dreadspawn: Give me the strength! How's he going to escape and defeat you if you shoot him?

  • Used in Nodwick when an evil henchman ends up asking his evil employers why they don't kill the adventurers they have so handily defeated. His only answer is to get a sword shoved in his face and a sharp admonishment that henchmen do not get to give orders.
  • In Lucky Luke, the Dalton brothers capture Luke more than once and, despite Jack and William suggesting just to kill him, Joe has always a "crueler" form of revenge that would let Luke finally escape from one way.
  • Pretty much the same thing happens in the Punisher MAX storyline "Widowmaker". As seen in the earlier storyline "Welcome Back Frank", actually shooting the Punisher sometimes just makes him even more angry.
  • In the Mickey Mouse comic Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot, Mickey is frequently captured by a masked villain named The Phantom Blot. The Phantom Blot tries to dispose of him with various complicated death traps, which Mickey always manages to escape from. When the Phantom Blot is finally captured, Mickey asks him why the Phantom Blot didn't just kill him instead of using the death traps. The Phantom Blot than reveals he cannot stand to watch somebody die, and therefore used the death traps so he wouldn't be around when Mickey died.
  • Deadshot's proposed solution to pretty much every Suicide Squad mission. Even when it isn't an assassination. The Wall usually relegates it to "plan B".

Fan Works

  • Spoofed in the Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series video "Marik's Council of Doom": when Bakura suggests bypassing the whole "challenging Yugi to a children's card game" shtick and just killing him, Marik replies that wouldn't work since 4Kids would simply censor it. The abridged series just does this a lot.

Joey: What do you people want from me?
Bandit Keith: Your Star Chips, dweeb. I have a score to settle with Pegasus, so Zombie-Boy here is going to beat you in a card game!
Joey: ... Why didn't you just take my star chips while I was unconscious?
Bandit Keith: Shut the hell up!


Films -- Animation

  • On Song of the South, Br'er Bear points out that Br'er Fox's plans to catch Br'er Rabbit never work and suggests that they just "knock his head clean off."
  • Peter Pan. Mr. Smee asks why Captain Hook insists on using a bomb to kill Peter Pan when just slitting his throat would be "more humane". Captain Hook responds that I Gave My Word not to lay a finger—or hook—on Peter. And he never breaks a promise.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:

Yzma: I'll turn him into a flea, a harmless little flea. Then, I'll put that flea in a box, and then I'll put that box inside another box, and then I'll mail that box to myself. And when it arrives (Evil Laugh), I'LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!...Or, to save on postage, I could just poison him.


Films -- Live-Action

  • Austin Powers: Scott Evil expresses his impatience with the means his father, Dr. Evil, uses to attempt to dispose of Austin Powers:

Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
(guard starts dipping mechanism)
Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!
Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.

  • Used in the film Puma Man; the Big Bad uses Mind Control to make the hero jump to his death, instead of going with his Mooks more practical suggestion of just having one of them shoot him, to make it look like death from natural causes. In all fairness, he had no way of knowing that The Obi-Wan stopped the suicide and taught the hero how to enter a death-like trance in order to deceive the villains. Which would have all been great had it not been for the fact that Vadhino tells us at one point that thanks to the mask, Kobras has total control over the police. So... why did it have to look like an accident again?
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku puts the heroes into an arena, to be killed by large monsters. This, of course, doesn't work, and Viceroy Gunray demands their execution by shooting. Dooku actually listens, but The Cavalry arrives before anything can be done about it.
  • In Ip Man, Colonel Sato crosses the Moral Event Horizon for shooting Master Liu after his three-on-one fight goes awry and afterward keeps asking to Just Shoot the title hero, but keeps getting prevented from doing so by the more honourable General Miura.
  • Justified in Six-String Samurai, where the USSR have occupied a post-nuclear America for decades.

"Why don't he just shoot him?"
"We haven't had bullets since '57!"

  • Batman Forever:
    • Inverted on both sides of the ledger: Riddler talks Two-Face out of just shooting Batman by claiming that taking out a cultural hero will leave him with a guilt trip, so it's better to make him die after mental and physical suffering since no-one mourns a pathetic shell of a man. Meanwhile, Batman talks Robin out of wanting to kill Two-Face by warning him that it won't make his anger go away. Two-Face ends up conveniently falling to his death later on anyway.
    • There's also the scene where Two-Face fails at immolating Batman, and decides to simply shoot him with a rather large gun. It would have worked if 1) Two-Face had not missed with the first shot and 2) Dick Grayson hadn't been there to rescue Batman from the resulting rubble.

Two-Face: No more riddles, no more curtains one and two! Just plain curtains!

  • In The Boys from Brazil, Josef Mengele insists that the Nazi conspirators should just kill nosy busybody investigator Ezra Lieberman. Mengele claims that no-one would pay attention to Lieberman's "paltry shreds of evidence", to which his superior replies, "If he dies suddenly, they would." Later, Mengele fails to take his own advice, giving the hero a Motive Rant instead of a bullet. He doesn't die—Ezra is a Boring Failure Hero—but he winds up losing his only advantage in the climax.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, ever-practical Jacopo asks this question of Edmond Dantes in response to hearing his plan to slowly destroy his enemies:

Jacopo: Why not just kill them? I'll do it! I'll run up to Paris -- bam, bam, bam, bam -- I'm back before week's end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?

Dantes declines, insisting that his enemies must suffer as he has suffered. In his defense, his plan does work, although it nearly fails at the end.
  • In Disney's Return to Oz Mombi asks why the Nome King did not turn Dorothy and company into ornaments right away, and instead let them play a near impossible guessing game to get their missing companions back... The Nome King replies that it's more fun. The same excuse is used in the book Ozma of Oz, but in that case the only reason everyone was found in the guessing game was because Billina eavesdropped.
  • In 28 Days Later, Private Jones implores Corporal Mitchell to shoot Sergeant Farrell rather than stab him with the bayonet. Mitchell's refusal to do so ultimately leads to Jim's escape, as it panicks Jones into triggering his gun.
  • The exact same thing happens to Bruce Willis again in the Sin City movie, as an Actor Allusion.
  • Used in Last Action Hero. After Practice handcuffs Jack and Danny, he goes into a long speech about why he's working for Vivaldi. Meanwhile, Danny frees himself with a handcuff key he happened to have, pulls a gun on Practice, and rants at length about how dumb movie villains always explain everything when all they have to do to win is shoot. At which point Vivaldi shows up and pulls a gun on him midspeech. "You're not so smart yourself, kid."
  • Blue Thunder features a non-shooting variant that otherwise plays this trope perfectly. The good guys have recorded on special videotape a conversation that exposes the Government Conspiracy. The bad guys go crazy chasing down the tape in an attempt to retrieve it before it can be given to the press. At the very last second, one of the conspirators reminds the others that the tapes are contained in special cases that are able to erase them by remote command (a fact that was introduced earlier). In a subversion, they try to do exactly this, but the case got knocked off in a scuffle with a Mook and so the command fails.
  • In Enter the Dragon, Lee brings this very point up to the man recruiting him to infiltrate Han's Island only for a hasty explanation that Hand would never allow a gun to ever be brought to his home. Lee visibly rolls his eyes at this. This is because that even though Bruce Lee was a martial arts master without equal at the time, he had absolutely no illusions on the firearms vs. martial arts debate and, playing a (sort of) secret agent in this movie, very much wanted to use one. But the producers nixed this idea, much to Bruce's annoyance.
  • In The Karate Kid Part II, Miyagi has the Goons' leader in a position to kill him; he instead stops his hand less than an inch from his face and squeezes his nose while making a honk noise. Daniel asks him why he didn't kill him, and Miyagi says he didn't need to. Later in the movie, Daniel does the same thing to the Japanese Goons' leader.
  • Total Recall has this happening twice, first one in a non-lethal way. While Quaid given the "virtual trip to Mars", the owner of the clinic leaves the room to get new clients. During the hunt for Quaid, The Dragon truly attempts several times to kill him, but towards the end is stopped by the Big Bad, who justifies it by wanting to get his friend back. He then has Quaid and his Love Interest put for mindwashing and leaves the room, with the (apparently, until then) Genre Savvy Dragon. When they escape, the second in command asks again to kill Quaid, to which a reluctant boss agrees. He reacts with, "It's about goddamn time!"
  • In the kids' film Three Ninjas, the titular middle-schoolers successfully defeat The Dragon, only to have some random Mooks pull guns on them. The heroes clearly consider this to be cheating.
  • Lampshaded in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: "If you're going to shoot, shoot, don't talk!"
  • XXX: State of the Union has Darius Stone knock out instead of kill Charlie, the woman who framed him for murder. His superior, Gibbons, says that he should have killed her. Later on, Stone is held at gunpoint by Charlie, only for Gibbons to shoot her. He reiterates, "I told you to kill that bitch."
  • As with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie, in Van Helsing, we have the vampire bride Aleera who constantly taunts and plays around with Anna but never gets around to actually killing her. When she finally has her cornered, Anna is thrown a stake by Carl and instantly stakes Aleera on the spot. Telling her (as a Shout-Out to the above movie) "If you're going to kill someone, kill them! Don't stand there talking about it!"


  • In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, several of Voldemort's Death Eaters suggest to Voldemort that they should just kill Harry Potter on the spot instead of arming him with a wand and killing him in a mock duel. He doesn't listen because his ego demands proof that he can win against a teenager while his minions don't care (and gets a Deus Ex Machina that foils him for his troubles). Voldemort wises up in the next book, attempting the Killing Curse the moment he comes face-to-face with Harry. Luckily Dumbledore shows up just in time to save the day.
    • More mundanely, the Half-Blood Prince's textbook in the sixth book has "Just shove a bezoar down their throats" scrawled over an entire section about poison antidotes.
  • In Huckleberry Finn, Tom denounces Huck's plan to liberate Jim from captivity by unlocking the shed's door and escaping by night as too simple and lacking flair, substituting it with an incredibly dangerous and over the top one instead.
  • Averted in the Fu Manchu novels, where no-one ever questions Fu Manchu's use of ridiculously exotic murder plots, probably because, except when targeting the heroes, they usually work.
  • Proof that this always has been and always will be an essential part of the Superhero formula: In The Elusive Pimpernel, one of Baroness Orczy's sequels to the Superhero Trope Codifier The Scarlet Pimpernel, while Chauvelin is practically orgasming over his overly-complicated plans to make the Scarlet Pimpernel suffer an intricate Fate Worse Than Death, his assigned Number Two Collot d'Herbois suggests they just shoot him.

"Collot d'Herbois, incredulous, half-contemptuous, did not altogether approve of these schemes, which seemed to him wild and uncanny; he liked the direct simplicity of a summary trial, of the guillotine, or of his own well stage-managed 'Noyades'. He did not feel that any ridicule or dishonour would necessarily paralyse a man in his efforts at intrigue, and would have liked to set Chauvelin's authority aside, to behead the woman upstairs and then to take his chance of capturing the man later on."

  • In the tie-in Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel What I Did on My Summer Vacation, the Big Bad suggests just killing the Slayer's friends. His advisor disagrees, saying that doing so is just suicide. You don't eat the Slayer's loved ones.
  • In Eragon, the titular character is told by Brom that the reason why magic users don't do this is because the recipient of the attack always has just enough time to get in a similar attack before they croak; thus a kind of unwritten rule between magical duelists is that they have to bend the enemy's mind to their will before the finishing blow.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Eyl finally has Gaunt and Mabbon at his mercy and starts gloating. Mabbon tells Eyl that he should have just fired. By failing to do so, Eyl gets knocked away by Gaunt, then has his head ventilated by Larkin.
  • The Dresden Files
    • In the novel Summer Knight, The Dragon notes that he had suggested just killing Harry several times during the course of the book (since this would have ruined the Big Bad's Batman Gambit, the Big Bad didn't listen). The trope is then inverted when the Big Bad immediately wants to kill Harry once He Has Outlived His Usefulness, but The Mole points out that just killing him would expose them to Harry's Dying Curse. This leads to them leaving Harry to drown in magical quicksand and escape while he's busy drowning. Which was The Mole's plan all along, as she was planning to betray the Big Bad.
    • This happens again in the climax of Dead Beat, when the Big Bad's advisor recommends he kill Harry. The Big Bad refuses, because Harry's Death Curse would ruin the spell he's currently trying to control. As he learns to his misfortune scant minutes later, being knocked out from behind by a freed Harry has a just as bad an effect.
  • In the first John Carter of Mars novel, Dejah Thoris explains that, while she really loves John Carter, she was forced to promise herself to an enemy prince. Her rules of honor forbid her to be with anyone else while her betrothed is still alive. John responds by drawing his sword and offering to take care of it. Unfortunately, she also can't be with a man who killed her fiancee.

Live-Action TV

  • On The X-Files, when the Syndicate discusses killing Mulder to keep him from thwarting their plans. Several of the members argue against this, pointing out that such an action would just make Mulder a martyr and draw unnecessary attention to Mulder's investigations into the X-Files. By leaving him alive and not doing anything, they just make Mulder look like a paranoid Cloudcuckoolander who no one outside of UFO circles will take seriously.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Warren Mears, after once again having his plans thwarted, finally tries this. It backfires when Buffy survives, and his parting shots cause arguably the show's most shocking case of Anyone Can Die, and lead directly and promptly to his very painful death by flaying.
    • In an earlier episode, Buffy herself subverts this trope by "just shooting" a demon that "no weapon forged can kill" -- with a bazooka.
    • Buffy tries to use her temporary mind-reading powers to get an answer out of Angel without him noticing, only to realize that it doesn't work on vampires:

Angel: You don't have to play games with me Buffy. Ever.
Buffy: Well, you're not exactly Joe-here's-what-I'm-thinking.
Angel: So ask me.
Buffy: Oh, but that would have made sense...


Spike: Why don't you rip her lungs out? It might make an impression.
Angelus: Lacks... poetry.
Spike: It doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?

  • Played straight in Dark Angel when Lydecker is pointing a gun at a sleeping Max and decides to talk instead of shoot, giving her the opportunity to jump up and roundhouse kick him in the face. However, this is Justified by a) Max being an expensive asset; and b) Lydecker regarding the X-5s as his children, and not being fond of the idea of them getting hurt.
  • Justified in the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Ood" when business owner Mr. Halpert declined to shoot the Doctor and Donna, saying that there will likely be a full investigation and their bodies will likely be found. If he did shoot them, it would create many problems for him legally in the future; but by leaving them to the Ood, they'll die just like all the other people around and there's no trouble beyond what's already happened.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Wormhole X-Treme!", O'Neill is acting as the military advisor to Martin's TV show, and when the question is brought up of "How can they defeat the giant alien without being weightless?", O'Neill says this exact line, and is commended for his innovative thinking. Martin was not impressed.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, this is frequently Ronon's job. For example, in one episode McKay's complex plan to stop the Asuran Replicators falls through and he starts panicking, Ronon's response is that they have guns that can kill Replicators... why not just shoot them all?

Todd: I was going to write a program that would trigger a slow overload in the primary capacitor, but I don't think we have time for that now.
Ronon: I was just gonna blow it up.
Todd: Naturally.

  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Suspecting that Gowron, supreme leader of the Klingon Empire to be a Changeling infiltrator, General Martok allowed Sisko & co. to expose him—by killing Gowron. Worf attacked Gowron and the two fought; at this point Martok invoked this trope. Martok's suggestion was quite uncharacteristic (and dishonorable) for a Klingon warrior, tipping Odo to the fact that he, not Gowron, was the real changeling.
    • In another episode, the Defiant is captured in battle by the Dominion. Sisko and crew are kept alive, though, because the Dominion ship was destroyed in said battle and the Defiant needs repairs. The Jem'Hadar first officer brings this trope up repeatedly to the Vorta captain, saying that the value of the crew helping with repairs is surely outweighed by the fact that they're no doubt scheming of a way to take back control of the ship, but he's ignored. At the end of the episode Sisko lampshades this, telling the first officer "Your captain should have listened to you. I'm a very dangerous man." The Jem'Hadar is resigned—his purpose, after all, was to serve the Vorta.
  • In the CSI episode "Unshockable", when discussing how a victim was poisoned with Sarin when already knocked out, Sara asks:

"Why didn't he just shoot him?"

  • Invoked in the past tense on Law and Order, when a character asks an investigator why, if the convicted killer's pleas that he'd not intended to commit murder were untrue, he didn't shoot the woman he'd struck with a tire iron. "The noise" is the reply.
  • On Pushing Daisies, the murderers will never use mundane methods to either kill their victims, or in their attempts to kill the heroes when they have the heroes captured (which they almost always do). This trope is eventually invoked in the episode "Smell Of Success":

Emerson Cod: Death by scratch and sniff. What the hell happened to people shooting each other with guns?


Myths & Religion

  • Norse Mythology tells that, when the gods had bound Fenrir so he would be unable to roam free, Loki apparently asked the other gods why they simply didn't kill it now that it was bound, knowing that a prophecy foretold that Fenrir would kill Odin. The gods were reluctant to do so because they didn't want to stain the holy place he was bound in with the wolf's blood (and letting it go first was certainly not an option).

Newspaper Comics

  • Inverted in Dick Tracy when Flattop has abducted Tracy and intends to kill him. His henchmen suggests that he allow them to simply slash Tracy's throat because it would be quieter, while being just as effective. However, Flattop overrules them because he prefers to shoot his targets. That proves to be a big mistake when Flattop prepares to do that on a count of three. Tracy lunges toward the killer to seize his gun and a wild battle ensues, where Tracy is able to defeat all the crooks at once, even as his comrades in the force are storming the hideout.

Video Games

  • Used by Guybrush in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: LeChuck's Revenge after LeChuck captures Guybrush, ties him and Wally up into an extremely elaborate torture device, and explains his plan to have both of them killed. When Guybrush asks why LeChuck didn't shoot him as soon as he came in, he responds: "Because we had an extra disk."
  • Oddly enough, Arcueid in Tsukihime asks Nero this—technically, she points out he's been messing around too much by making Shiki suffer, which just triggered his Nanaya side—after Nero decides he's going to have fun and slowly eat Shiki instead of killing him outright. After Shiki starts kicking his ass, he realizes maaaybe it would have been a better idea not to play with his food.
  • In Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel scenario, True Assassin points out to his master that the easy and pragmatic thing would probably be to have him kill Shirou and Rin, who're running around like headless chickens desperately trying to find a way to defeat the Shadow that's eating half the town. Said master, who is an utter sadist, replies that it's more fun to do nothing, watch them fail, and have the Shadow kill them.
    • This comes back to bite Zouken in the ass when the Shadow, which is Sakura, kills him and True Assassin.
    • To be fair Zouken was lying about his motive: Sakura was slowly losing it, but Zouken had already learned that he simply couldn't break her on his own. Thus he leaves the two people who can do that alive and hope they screw up. And they do!
  • Inverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater during the fight with Volgin. After the battle stops going his way, he looks up at Ocelot and orders him to shoot Snake. Ocelot replies with, "I'm afraid I can't do that." Then tells him, "Fight like a man, Volgin."
  • In Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle, Lampshaded when Keen is surprised that the Gnostic Elders weren't killed instead of just kidnapped. The council page immediately handwaves this by telling him that the elders are immortal.
  • Inverted in Baldur's Gate 2. After having captured you and completed his evil plans he had in store for you, Big Bad Irenicus orders his sister, Psycho for Hire Bodhi, to have you "disposed of" immediately. Bodhi instead exhibits the Bond Villain Stupidity her role is usually set up to lampshade and decides it would be much funnier to have you thrown to the resident Malevolent Architecture in a game of cat and mouse—behind Irenicus's back. The protagonist is even allowed to point out that Irenicus won't be happy if he finds out. Of course, Irenicus could have avoided the mess if he just killed the party himself.
  • Double Switch: At the end of the game, Lyle has Eddie at his mercy, and he asks everyone what should be done with the guy. Brutus says "Just nail him!" However, Lyle ends up activating a trap that sends Eddie flying around a couple of times, and then through a Trap Door, supposedly sending him back to the basement.
  • Portal 2: In the end, GLaDOS states that she's been ignoring the simple solution of how to get rid of Chell: just let her go. Killing Chell is very difficult and causes GLaDOS no end of problems... so why not just give Chell what she wants and let her go? Everyone's happy that way.
  • In a side conversation in Persona 2 Innocent Sin, the main characters discuss a few potential "simple solutions" to the current mess and decide they probably won't work; tracking down Joker by summoning him again won't work because he could simply choose not to appear, and trying to take advantage of the fact that rumors are coming true by starting a rumor that Joker is easy to defeat won't work because people wouldn't spread a rumor like that.

Web Animation

  • The second Strong Bad Email is someone asking Strong Bad that if he hates "Homsar" so much, why doesn't he just kill him? Strong Bad responds that he is utterly right and dumps a "Heavy Lourde" at a newly invented character called Homsar (who did not exist up to this point and had little to no relation to Strong Bad's actual nemesis "Homestar"). Homsar would later prove to be Not Quite Dead and became an ongoing Easter Egg and Ensemble Darkhorse of the series.

Web Comics


Boba Fett: (to Jango) Why couldn't you just shoot him?
Jango Fett: What sort of criminal mastermind would I be if I did that?


Jengisha: It's like you literally set out to reinvent the wheel, and… missed.


Web Original

  • In the Fanfic Dark Heart High, a shojo-style parody of evil overlords that deliberately seeks out tropes to adopt and cherish, a class for aspiring supervillains is asked what they'd do when they had their nemesis at their mercy. After listening to the litany of death traps and tortures of her classmates' answers, protagonist Yuki fumbles for a moment, then shrugs and says, "I'd just shoot him." Her teacher is quite impressed.
  • has a list of The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots. After going through each plot the alternative they suggest is a much simpler plan that always ends with shooting their target in the face.
  • James Rolfe made a video for "Cinemassacre's Top 10 Worst Movie Clichés". Number 1 is labeled "Stupid Villains" and boils down to him demanding this question. It ends with a The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie clip that subverts and lampshades the trope.
  • In Darwin's Soldiers: Scrodinger's Prisoners, Dr. Shelton and a soldier have to get through a room with an angry doctor. The soldier suggests this as an option Turns out that's pretty much what they do.
  • This page [dead link] has Blofeld defending himself for doing just that.
  • The Spoony Experiment:
    • When Original!Spoony shows up intending to take back his show from Clone!Spoony:

Original Spoony: That's why I started training at a Shaolin monastery... until I realized the lessons would be really expensive, so I just went out and bought this gun!

    • Clone!Spoony then reveals he's reviewing Final Fantasy X prompting Original!Spoony to shoot himself and change back into a Black Lantern. Yeah, it's complicated.
  • Lampshaded in this video, starring Gun Man.
  • Shark Pool is a trailer for a fictional movie about a shark in a swimming pool. A guy offers the suggestion of "just don't go in the pool".

Western Animation

  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • A comic-based episode had Joker poring over a variety of odd tortures to inflict on Batman, flies into a rage after Harley Quinn matter-of-factly offers this question. Irony bites Harley in the ass after her own dramatic death trap nearly succeeds *until Mr. J becomes angry at her for upstaging him* and busts in to stop her. Even more ironically, the Joker then goes to shoot the restrained Batman anyway after he gets Harley out of the picture, as it's just too rare an opportunity to turn down. By this point, of course, Batman has freed himself. The Joker is probably the canonical example of a Big Bad who will accept nothing less than a deathtrap ending for the hero, no matter how many times it's been tried and failed.'
      • In the case of the Joker, however, it is arguably Justified, since the Joker is explicitly insane. His actions and choices should not necessarily be expected to be rational.
    • In the episode "The Trial", Batman's rogues gallery put him through a Joker Jury scenario. Two-Face makes the off-hand comment that he suggested "a quick slug between the eyes" instead of going through all the theatrics, but lost the coin toss.
  • Justice League (also part of the DCAU)
    • Several years later, it seems the Joker has learnt his lesson. After the Injustice Gang captures Batman, Luthor wants to keep Batman imprisoned up so that he can interrogate him and learn the Justice League's weaknesses. Joker, who knows from experience that keeping Batman alive isn't going to end well, tells Luthor to Just Shoot Him. Luthor doesn't listen, and Bats go on to take the Injustice League apart from the inside. Ironically, there is never a suggestion made to remove Batman's mask.
    • Ex-actor-turned-shapeshifter Clayface makes the suggestion to Gorilla Grodd in another episode after capturing the heroes, specifically mentioning he's acted in enough movies to catch on that the heroes always think of a way out, and it would be better to just kill the subdued heroes immediately instead of trying to bring about a dramatic climax. Gorilla Grodd comments that he never liked those movies and convinces him to go along with the dramatic approach by offering him an important center-stage role in the executions. Of course, it turns out "Clayface" is really the shapeshifting hero J'onn J'onzz masquerading as the villain.
  • When The Joker obtains godlike power in the "Emperor Joker" episode of Batman the Brave And The Bold, Harley Quinn suggests that, now that he's got Batman where he wants him, he should take his mask off and find out who he is. Note that he actually kills Batman. Repeatedly.

Joker: And reduce my primal enemy to a mere man? Harley, my dear, I'm so disappointed in you. Where's the fun in that?

  • A heroic example in Beast Wars: After Optimus Primal took the Spark of Optimus Prime into his body to thwart Megatron's assassination attempt Megatron came into the Ark with Inferno to finish the job. Despite Prime's spark giving Primal the size, as well as the physical and fire power of a large Autobot, he hesitates to attack since he might alter history. Regardless, after Megatron and Optimus argue a bit, Rattrap gets fed up and asks:

Rattrap: Oh for bootin' up cold!! Will ya just shoot 'im?

  • Speaking of Transformers, people have been saying this about Megatron and Starscream for years due to Screamer's constant attempts to take leadership of the Decepticons in just about every continuity. In Transformers Animated, it finally happens, only for Starscream to become immortal from a shard of the Allspark embedded in his head. Megatron proceeds to kill him about five more times in a single episode, to no avail.
  • The Zeta Project, which is also part of the DCAU, actually went out of its way to explain why they didn't shoot Zeta. Apparently the writers were aware this trope was being over used, so the first episode of the series proper has Bennett explaining two things: firstly, he's a very expensive robot assassin they cannot afford to rebuild, and secondly, he's an assassin and too much violence could trigger violence in retaliation. The possibility of bystanders being hit by stray bullets is addressed later on, as is the general concept of civilian death and crossfire damage.
    • And then they go ahead and build another assassin robot to capture or destroy Zeta, who immediately starts causing tons of destruction in public areas. So much for that explanation.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Señor Senior Jr. is the living embodiment of this trope. However, his boss (actually his father, Señor Senior, Sr.) never becomes angry, only exasperated that his son "doesn't get it".
    • Señor Senior, Sr. is, of course, the ultimate Card-Carrying Villain, who engages in villainous activity (and tropes) not for any sort of gain (he's already so ridiculously wealthy as to make that pointless) but out of boredom. When it was pointed out that his mansion resembled a supervillain's lair, Señor Senior, Sr. decided it would be fun to become one. He doesn't care at all about whether his schemes are successful, just about whether they're carried out in the "proper" villainous manner.
    • Shego, when she's in Deadpan Snarker mode, has her moments, too. For example, in The Movie A Sitch in Time, when Drakken reveals his plot to go back in time and "crush Kim's spirit," preventing her from growing up to become a spy hero, Shego points out a much more permanent solution would be to just kill her past self.
    • Shego has often espoused her frustration with Drakken's Genre Blindness since the first season: After being ordered to tie Kim and Ron to lightning rods meant to eventually fry them by way of an oncoming electrical storm, Shego remarks: "I prefer the 'direct approach', but you know Drakken...."
  • In several episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog (as well as in some early issues of the Archie Sonic comic), Robotnik has Sonic at his mercy, and Sniveley asks why Robotnik doesn't just roboticize him. Snively also has a habit of questioning Robotnik's more elaborate plots.
  • The Villain Episode of The Fairly OddParents has Crocker becoming Norm's master. Finding they both hate Timmy, Norm grants Crocker's wishes with no catch... At first. However, throughout the show Crocker insists on using elaborate Wile E. Coyote like traps rather than easily teleporting him to Mars, as Norm keeps suggesting. It annoys Norm to no end. And it's used against him at the end after Norm agrees on a temporary truce with Timmy.
  • South Park: Knowing Cartman's trapper keeper will take over the world...

Bill Cosby (robot): (drawing a gun) Well, that does it!
Kyle: Hey, what are you doing?
Bill Cosby (robot): I have no other choice. For the sake of humanity I have to kill him. [Cartman]
Kyle: Oh, OK.
Stan: That's fine. (pauses) No, wait!
Bill Cosby (robot): What?
Stan: Can I do it?
Bill Cosby (robot): Oh well, I suppose. (hands gun over to Stan)
Stan: Sweet! Kiss your ass goodbye, Fatboy!
Bill Cosby (robot): Wait, perhaps there is another way. If you take me to where Eric Cartman lives, I could try reasoning with his human mother.
Stan: Well, yeah. Or we could just kill him.
Kyle: Yeah, that would be faster.
Stan: He's right there.
Bill Cosby (robot): I'm afraid I can't. I think I'm actually starting to feel what you "humans" call compassion. It's an amazing feeling.
Stan & Kyle: Oh.

  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Mister Mxyzptlk's wife asks Mxyzptlk why he simply doesn't destroy Superman instead of playing games with him after Mxyzptlk expresses his annoyance with being repeatedly out-foxed by the Man of Steel. Mxyzptlk (who is a Reality Warper on level with a Physical God) decides to follow her advice... by building an overly complicated Humongous Mecha and trying to fight Superman with it. It works about as well as can be imagined.
  • Lampshaded in Earthworm Jim, when he sneaks up behind an Elite Mook with a towed howitzer, aims it, then sighs he can't do it, since it's too easy. He then takes out the mook with a ridicilous ambush, like he did with the others. It should be noted that when it comes to shooting wildly with his raygun, Jim has little hesitation.
  • One episode of The Powerpuff Girls gives us a heroic example: The girls run up against the Ministry of Pain, a team of arch-criminals some thirty years past their shelf life. Despite Bubbles and Buttercup pointing out that they could probably arrest them within all of two seconds, Blossom insists upon being "polite to their elders" and instead brings the Ministry's old heroic nemesis out of retirement to fight them. The end result: Both superhero and villains end up getting hurt trying to fight each other and get hospitalized, with everyone (even the narrator) remarking What an Idiot! Blossom is for causing all this.
  • In Johnny Test, the Butler of the villain, a cat (It Makes Sense in Context), asks him why does his Doomsday Device have a countdown on it. The villain Justifies this by pointing out it gives them enough time to get out of range.
  • In The Venture Bros episode "The Lepidopterists", Jonah Venture Jr. is dumbfounded when he finds out that he must consult with both the OSI and the handbook of the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the rules of "arching" instead of just killing the Monarch after being attacked. He's told that as insane and stupid as the whole process is, it's better to play along than actually pissing off the Guild.
    • When 21 captures Hank and Dean to try and get them to confess killing 24, Rusty and Sergeant Hatred follow their trace back to the villain community of Malice where Doctor Ms. The Monarch suggests to Rusty "Didn't you try calling them?"
  • In the Masters of Evil episode of Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes, after the Masters captured five of the Avengers, Abomination tells Baron Zemo to kill the ones they have captured, because the others will come. But Zemo ignores, and even berates him. He really should have listened.

Abomination: It's a mistake to keep them alive, Zemo!

  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: The Eds want to watch a monster movie at Ed's place, but Sarah keeps kicking them out.

Edd: We could just go to our house, Eddy...
Eddy: What? And ruin the plot?


Real Life

  • Older Than Feudalism: There is an old parable about ancient Greek philosophers discussing how many teeth are in a horse's mouth. One naive young man suggests finding an actual horse and counting the teeth, much to the outrage of his peers. The consensus of the philosophers of the time was quite literally that if you had to go out and preform an experiment in order to prove your theory, then your theory was a bad one. (Thus, In History of Animals, Aristotle claimed that human males have more teeth than females despite having been married twice!)
    • This also explains why he thought insects only had four legs.
  • Harrison Ford is credited with using a variant of "Why don't I just shoot him?" on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as he suffered from food poisoning and wasn't up for filming a planned long-winded fight sequence. The rest is history.
  • From the set of The Lord of the Rings: "Why don't I just zap them?"
  • There's an urban legend that goes as follows: When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 degrees Celsius. The Russians used a pencil. However, this isn't at all true, as both Russia and the US knew before hand that pens wouldn't work in space and instead used pencils. When pencils proved to be hazardous in space due to graphite dust and debris, the US switched to felt pens while Russia switched to grease pencils on plastic tablets. Eventually a private entrepreneur independently developed the space pen with $1 million in his own funds, and sold them to NASA and Russia for $3 each.