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"Why didn't you just say that in the first place?! We could have skipped all the melodrama and sharp things!"
Sonic the Hedgehog, Ghosts of the Future

An antagonist appears with a problem. However, instead of asking for help from the Hero and other reasonable things, they engage in a disruptive and destructive behavior that forces the heroes to do some derring-do to stop him.

Once the situation is resolved, the heroes admonish the antagonist that they could have helped with the problem in the beginning and all the rough stuff could have been avoided if the antagonist was civilized and savvy enough to ask politely.

A good Warrior Therapist sometimes foresees this and tells this to the villains at their first engagement. Obviously, that doesn't help.

Sometimes, when a call has bad reception, this can make a would be hero fall right into this trap. Let's You and Him Fight stories often have this flaw.

A common symptom of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and holding the Idiot Ball.[1]

Compare Dramatically Missing the Point.

Examples of Could Have Avoided This Plot include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragon Ball Abridged, Gohan asks Krillin if "he used his Kienzan to chop Frieza in half" after using his Solar Flare. Krillin didn't.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, Yami rants to Pegasus about all the unnecessary death, expense and pointless angst he's caused by setting up the Duelist Kingdom tournament to try and cheat Yugi out of the Millennium Puzzle. "Did you ever consider just asking me for it? I mean, do you have any idea how much time and money you've wasted with this whole façade? People have died because you wanted a necklace! I killed a gay clown for Ra's sake!"
    • It's true, too. "Hi, I'm a filthy rich business mogul with an interest in Egyptian artifacts. How would you like living like a king and never having to work again in your entire life?" "But... Grandpa..." "You can share. Disgustingly large sums of money are nice like that."
    • It helps that, in the original Japanese version, it had nothing to do with the puzzle—he just had to beat Yugi to get some executives on his side (don't ask). Of course, there was still no need for the soul stealing and the giant tournament.
    • It's also revealed that the Big Five wanted to take over Kaiba Corp and merge with Industrial Illusions, and the condition for the merger was Pegasus being able to defeat Yugi, who had defeated Kaiba, and thus help mitigate the blow to KaibaCorp's reputation.
      • This would have made the proceeding Filler Arcs make more sense.
      • The German dub points this out several times. Kaiba his brother and Pegasus mention it often to Yugi. Never seen other dubs so cant say how different the schenes are.
    • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX manga, Chronos threatens Sho with expulsion for getting a 0 on a test, having him to duel Judai to stay (with Judai losing his deck if he loses). After Judai wins, Midori Hibiki reports that Chronos read a provisional report, and that Sho got a high score, only having it counted as a 0 for the preliminary report because he didn't write his name. Then again, given that Chronos is a Sadist Teacher with a grudge against Judai, it's possible he never cared if the report was accurate.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Yusei points out to Z-One at the end that his attempts to save the future from The End of the World as We Know It could've gone a hell of a lot easier had he simply warned Past!New Domino City of the dangers of Momentum and Synchro Summoning than attempting to destroy the city, like he planned. Especially egregious considering how fresh in the minds of its citizens Zero Reverse was, in Past!NDC.
      • Though to be fair, Z-One was behind the cause of Zero Reverse as another alternative plan and it didn't work. He had also tried other plans as well before proceeding with this one.
  • Blood Plus has the Schiff, escaped bioweapons that really would like nothing more than to live normal, happy lives. Unfortunately, they have a very, very short life span. They decide that Saya's blood might help... and savagely attack her. They eventually ask politely, and Saya gives them some willingly. Too bad it was all set up as a Let's You and Him Fight.
  • In Uchuu Senkan Yamato/Star Blazers, after the crew of the Yamato is forced to destroy the Gamilas (Gamilon) homeworld, Kodai (Derek) is depressed about it, particularly because he and the crew had learned that the invasion of Earth was just to help save Gamilas, and the entire war could have been avoided if the Gamilas had just asked for help...
  • In the second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Wolkenritter assume that stealing others' magical powers is the only way to save their master. That's obviously wrong (and It Got Worse) but they don't realize that until the late episodes, joining forces with the heroes. Generally, Nanoha herself believes that everything can be avoided and always inquires about the baddies' motivation (usually, to no avail) before befriending them into submission.
    • Unlike many examples of this trope, Nanoha and the other heroes didn't have any alternate ideas for saving Hayate, although it took them a while to find out about the Wolkenritter's goal. The incident is resolved when the Book of Darkness is completed, Hayate manages to reach out to the book itself, and the heroes, the Wolkenritter and Hayate team up to defeat the defense program.
    • The source material being what it is, Academy Blues has Hayate offer this fillip to the villains. Endless Waltz shows that the other side did not really bite.
    • In the first season, Fate Testarossa refuses to ask for Nanoha's help in recovering the Lost Logia, even though Nanoha's only objective was that they were safely sealed. Although this probably wouldn't have worked in the long run anyway, considering the Fate's Mom was going to use them to break reality.
      • Fate agrees to Nanoha's help in sealing the six Jewel Seeds in the ocean in Episode 9, dividing them between them... which gets her another whipping from her mother for wasting a precious opportunity.
  • Death Note: Had Mello sucked up his pride and deigned to work with Near after L's death, the whole "Five years later" debacle probably wouldn't have happened.
    • It probably wouldn't have prevented the entire arc, but would most likely have prevented the "notebook ransom" arc and the deaths of most of the SPK members.
  • Giant Robo has one of the largest named character death count in non-Tomino work, and it all happened, because someone misunderstood von Fogler.
    • To be fair to the antagonist, von Fogler the antagonist's dad really should've left a note or something for his son to read instead of making a video message that plays only when all three anti-shizuma drives are united. Said antagonist does call von Fogler out on this
  • In Junjou Romantica, Nowaki disappears from Hiroki's life for a year without so much as leaving a note. Hiroki is understandably pissed off, and when Nowaki comes back they have a fight that lasts for weeks before finally being resolved. It's not until after they've made up and decided to move in together that Hiroki remembers that, um, actually Nowaki did tell him he was going to leave... and, in fact, Hiroki encouraged him to do so... it's just that Hiroki wasn't paying enough attention to the conversation to remember it afterwards. Ooops. Like Hiroki says, "Wow... that sure makes me look like the bad guy here."
  • Letter Bee: In the "Letter to Jiggy Pepper" arc, a girl named Nelly and her brother were once friends with Jiggy Pepper before he left town to become a Letter Bee. Nello, dying of a disease, wrote a letter to Jiggy and confessed to being "so angry," which Nelly believed meant that he was angry with Jiggy Pepper, and caused her to steal Lag's crossing pass in order to deliver Nello's letter herself. It turns out that Nello was angry with himself for not being able to get better so that he could protect his sister, he encouraged Jiggy to follow his dreams, and Jiggy left to finance building a church in the village.
  • So much could have been avoided in Code Geass had Lelouch been truthful to Suzaku about his Geass going out of control while joking to Euphie during their bugged-by-Schneizel conversation towards the end of R2. Or EVEN EARLIER if he didn't have such a morbid sense of humor.
    • 1): Who would ever believe "I accidentally forced my half-sister to commit genocide"? And 2): For most of the first season, Lelouch didn't know Suzaku was the one piloting the Lancelot, so he didn't really have any reason to try to get him on his side other than their friendship—and Lelouch has a habit of trying to keep his friends out of the war, rather than recruiting them. Still, if he had taken off his mask when he first saved Suzaku from being executed, the series would definitely look a lot different.
    • Really, a lot of things could have been avoided in Code Geass. Poor Lulu, the whole universe was just out to get him.
  • The Doom Tree arc in Sailor Moon. Ail and An are not really evil, they are just the last of their species trying to survive. If only they, you know, asked the Sailor Senshi to strike some mutually acceptable agreement about energy instead of forcefully draining it from random people... Granted, we eventually find out that there was a reason they acted that way.
  • Naruto: If Aoba didn't open that door and scream into Sasuke's face that Itachi came back to Konoha, Sasuke's Roaring Rampage of Revenge wouldn't have been triggered and he may have never left Konoha.
    • The entire debacle with the Uchiha Clan's massacre could likely have been avoided if anyone had listened to the Third Hokage when he tried to negotiate a peaceful solution. However, Danzo's rampant paranoia and the unyielding arrogance of the Uchiha ringleaders over a quasi-imagined slight meant that any diplomatic solution was rendered impossible and Itachi was forced to kill the entire clan to prevent a civil war. Itachi arguably screwed the pooch in regards to his Gambit Roulette regarding Sasuke, too; if Itachi hadn't been so dedicated to Suicide by Cop and forcing the role of hero on his little brother, it's likely Sasuke wouldn't be a raving, genocidal lunatic today. To be fair, some fans suspect Tobi sabotaged both of these plans to use Sasuke and his father (the coup's ringleader) as Unwitting Pawns.
  • That moment in Gundam Wing where the entire plot could have been averted by the peaceful coalition of Alliance generals negotiating with the Colonies...if Treize hadn't tricked the pilots into blowing them up.
  • This trope is present in Fullmetal Alchemist. Had the unnamed Alchemist of Xerxes never created the Dwarf in the Flask the series wouldn't even have a Big Bad! Also done from the villain's perspective. See the Fullmetal Alchemist entry on Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
    • Also done in the 2003 anime version. If Dante wasn't so afraid of creating the philosopher's stone herself, she would have had one and probably many more, without resorting to such a risky plan nor need to create the homunculi.
      • Of course she was a bit justified considering what happened to Hohenheim.
  • In Guilty Crown, if Souta and some other F-ranked Void users hadn't tried to break into a hospital to get more vaccine for everyone, Shuu, Ayase, Hare and Tsugumi wouldn't have had to chase them and all of them wouldn't have been attacked by the Anti Bodies, which would have meant that Hare wouldn't have died.
  • Paranoia Agent: Sagi Tsukiko created Shonen Bat only to avoid her strict father's scolding for losing Maromi. but Maniwa revealed that her father always knew the truth: He only went to search for Shonen Bat to avoid the fact that he was so strict and her own daughter feared him, so he lied to the police and took a bat and pretended to search for Shonen Bat to show Tsukiko he cared for her.

Comic Books

  • In a 1970s Archie story, a young man kidnaps Betty, under the assumption that she's Mr. Lodge's daughter, in retaliation for Lodge not promoting his father to a middle-management position. When the crook is caught, Lodge tells him that he had in fact made him a vice president.
  • Marvel and DC comics constantly have the old 'Newly Introduced Heroes Have A Misunderstanding Then Fight' plot, which would usually be averted if they had been more level-headed or listened to their comrades telling them they're all on the same side. This happens especially in crossovers.
    • This even has its own trope.
    • This is referenced in Watchmen, when Ozymandias says that it was common for superheroes to fight each other when they first meet. The Comedian doesn't seem to care if he knows they're a hero or not.
      • Of course he later states that the Comedian had been lying when he claimed to have mistaken Ozymandias for a threat. Considering the Comedian's temperament and implied history of murdering for the government it wouldn't be surprising.
    • In a rare subversion in Aztek: The Ultimate Man #2, the Genre Savvy Aztek does avoided the usual Let's You and Him Fight when he first meets Kyle Rayner by taking his ring without him noticing.

Fan Works

  • With Strings Attached. After the epic battle on the Plains of Death, George points out to the Hunter that after he learned he could become a dragon, he could just have flown everyone away from the Plains and up to the Twisted Temple, thus avoiding the battle, which was never necessary to their quest.
  • At least a third of the ridiculously long Ace Attorney fic Turnabout Everlasting could have been avoided if Phoenix had simply told his girlfriend Maya that Kristoph Gavin had her in his sights and asked her to lie low and fake a breakup with him, thus keeping her safe from whatever Kristoph had planned for her until Phoenix and Apollo had dealt with him. Instead? He asks his ex-girlfriend Iris to pretend they're dating and breaks up with Maya for real, shattering both their hearts and causing unnecessary angst for fifty plus chapters before they finally get back together.
  • Many Team Iron Man fanfics in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom point out that if Steve Rogers had told world leaders the truth about Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier, and told Tony Stark at the start that Bucky killed his parents Howard and Maria while Brainwashed and Crazy, everything in Captain America: Civil War that involved Bucky could have been avoided.


  • In National Treasure: Book of Secrets the antagonist, played by Ed Harris, explains at the end that he accused protagonist Ben Gates's ancestor of being a conspirator in Lincoln's death in order to get him to help unravel a mystery involving the City of Gold. Apparently, the idea of just asking for help from someone who clearly enjoys solving puzzles never occurred to him.
    • Ultimately though, Ed Harris wanted sole credit for finding the city, not just the reward.
  • The Wizard of Oz subverts this. While Dorothy could have gone home the second she got the magic slippers, she never would have learned anything about herself if she had, and none of her new friends would have been met - not to mention all of her friends would still be in the messes they were stuck in. In other words, the journey was far more important than the destination.
    • And in the book the first good witch didn't know how the slippers worked anyway...
    • The text adventure based on the books (90% of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, about 2/3 of The Marvelous Land of Oz, and Tiktok imported from Ozma of Oz) Lampshades it. If you type "click heels" as a command, it prematurely ends the game, saying Dorothy goes through her entire life wondering what other wonders she could have seen if she stayed in Oz.
  • In Avatar, a method of avoiding the conflict between the military and Na'vi had already been put to use in the form of the titular avatars. The main characters were supposed to research the area and diplomatically convince the Na'vi to allow some Unobtanium mining. Unfortunately, the main characters were so busy screwing around that they forgot the whole "diplomacy" thing until their deadline was up, leading to a destructive battle, with hundreds of people dead on both sides. In fact, Jake was in the middle of trying to get the Na'vi out of Hometree before when Quaritch yanked him. If the 'dozer had been a bit slower, if he had gotten into the Avatar bed a few minutes earlier, if Quaritch had been a few minutes later, etc. Noted in How It Should Have Ended .
    • In one of the deleted scenes, Jake Sully admits that he is in a no-win situation and could only stall for more time by giving Quaritch vital info on the Navi while trying to earn enough trust to convince the tribe to leave their ancestral home.
    • Heck, in one scene in the movie proper, it's revealed part of Quaritch's motivation was a depressed Sully admiting "It'll never work..." But clearly NOT in a good, either Sully for making the video...and the 'treason' thing was a bit...overdone.
  • In The Sandlot, if they had realized the stories about The Beast was an urban legend, and had just gone to Mr. Mertle in the first place about the baseball, the whole thing could've been avoided. Mr. Mertle even asked why they didn't go to him first.
    • What's worse, Scotty had actually suggested going over and asking before being rejected in favor of Squints' convoluted plan.
  • Return of the Living Dead Part II reveals that burning the zombies isn't the only way to kill them after all. Just a good high-voltage zap, and they'll drop dead, simple as that. If only Ernie Kaltenbrunner or the other protagonists of the first film had figured that out...
  • As Marge lampshades, the events of The Simpsons Movie could have been avoided if Homer had listened to her and gotten rid of Spider-Pig when she first asked.


  • In the novel Red Storm Rising, the Soviet Union's largest oil refinery is destroyed by a terrorist attack, and the USSR launches an invasion of West Germany to distract from their true intentions for the Middle East in order to get the oil it needs, intending to use their existing stocks of already existing refined oil to fuel what they expected to be an easy defeat of a NATO surprised by a supposedly unexpected sudden attack. By the end of the novel, the Russians are repelled, and in the final pages a NATO commander quips that if only the Soviets had asked for help, the West would have been happy to sell it to them.
      • One Politburo member actually pointed out that they could simply buy fuel, something they could afford slightly better than losing a war they had at best an even chance of winning, but was overruled for fear of the scenario mentioned in The Devil's Alternative, below; The United States would have them over a barrel. Of oil.
    • This type of situation was handled far better in the novel The Devil's Alternative, where the Soviet Union is permitted to purchase desperately needed wheat by agreeing to arms reductions, thus averting a similar invasion of West Germany.
  • In the first Vlad Taltos book, Vlad makes a complaint of this nature to Sethra Lavode and Morrolan after learning his embezzling employee was their plot to meet with him. Subverted in the next two sentences when he acknowledges that he probably wouldn't have come if they just asked.
    • The entire goal of Fornia in Dragon is to release the Great Weapon concealed within the sword he stole from him. To do so, he waged a massive war against Morrolan on the off-chance that they would come into single combat in battle, which ends up getting him killed. Later, Vlad comments that Fornia could have just challenged Morrolan to a duel, except that Morrolan had already declared war on him, and a Dragonlord can't resist a good war.
  • Author Matt Stover presents an interesting twist on this one in Blade of Tyshalle. In the book's prologue, protagonists Kris Hansen and Hari Michaelson plot to get Hari out of Magic School and into Battle School. Their plan hinges on getting Hari to demonstrate his fighting prowess by "saving" Kris from a rival, crippling him in the process. Afterward, the head teacher tells them their plan has succeeded, but laments that another person's dream was crushed so that they could have theirs, adding plaintively "Couldn't you have asked?"
    • It's played also as a sort of "What the Hell, Hero?" moment. The dean who has been depicted as an antagonist jerk is completely at the end of his rope, almost in tears because whatever else he is he is a teacher who cares for his students.
  • In Queen Zixi of Ix (by L. Frank Baum, the author of the Oz series), the title character is a Vain Sorceress who attempts to steal a magical cloak that will grant one wish to each person who wears it. In the end, when her schemes are discovered, the cloak's owners tell her that they would have been willing to let her borrow the cloak and make her one wish, so she had no need to resort to theft. However, this incident convinces the fairies who made the cloak that humanity is no longer worthy of such a gift, and they take it back—so Zixi still never gets to have her wish granted.
  • In the short story The Necklace a woman asks her friend to borrow a necklace for a party to make herself stand out. Her friend gives it to her but after the party the woman loses the necklace. Rather then tell her friend the truth, she replaces it with a similar but very expensive one and she and her husband work themselves into poverty trying to pay it off. When she see her friend against, its then she reveals the truth to her... only to be told the necklace that was loaned to her was a cheap imitation that was hardly worth anything.
  • Harry Harrison's novel Invasion: Earth describes Earth's First Contact with two alien races. One of them, pale-white Human Aliens, claim they arrive in peace to protect Earth against their enemies, who are bent on conquering the planet and taking its resources. They set up powerful weapons in Antarctica but require large quantities of radioactive materials to power them, which the grateful Earth governments supply them. When the US and USSR start to suspect their new "friends" may not be telling the truth (like when two major cities get wiped out with Neutron Bombs), they send a mission to the Moon, where the main characters communicate with the other aliens (Wookie-like beasts), who claim the first aliens are the evil ones. The end result is that the Earth governments are supplying the humanoid aliens with resources to maintain the ruse of cooperation while also supplying resources to their enemies for help in liberating Earth. It turns out that both alien races are working together to trick humans out of their resources, which they need to power their ships. After kicking out the aliens, one of the main characters wonders why the aliens didn't simply ask for help while offering their technology in return. She also condemns the military for striking back at the aliens instead of offering help, which would carry more weight if they weren't responsible for millions dying in the most horrific way.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Shadows of Steel Big Bad Buzhazi is told that he could have avoided getting into trouble with the US had he only destroyed their spy ship but let the crew be, since the US would have swallowed the destruction of the ship in exchange for not letting the truth about it out.
  • The Tales of the Otori series ends with a fairly spectacular disaster that was considerably worsened by Takeo not telling Kaede that he had gotten another woman pregnant when he left her and thought they would never see each other again. It is worth noting that there were sixteen years during which this information could have been imparted, but every time he considered telling her he kept putting it off. He does, at least, fully acknowledge how stupid he's been, but by then it's too late to solve the problem.
  • In the Wars of Light and Shadow, the Koriathain Order had been searching for the Waystone of the Koriathain, an enormous Crystal Ball that could amplify their power immensely, for five centuries. Upon learning that Sethvir of the Fellowship had it, they try breaking into his tower and seizing it by force. After being violently repelled by the wards, they are forced to ask him for the return of the Waystone when he returns from a business trip. At which point he mentions that they had asked for the return of the stone (Or assistance in finding it) at any point in the 500 years since they had misplaced it, they would have given it back without any fuss.

Live Action TV

  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "11001001", the Bynars, a cybernetic and mildly hive-minded Federation species whose "hat" is binary thinking, seize control of the Enterprise in order to save their planetary database, tricking most of the crew into evacuating the ship and then trapping Picard and Riker in the holodeck. When Picard learns about their predicament and asks why they didn't just ask for help, they explain "you might have said no". Riker observes that, as the Bynars only think in all-or-nothing absolutes, the mere possibility of being turned down seemed as bad as a certainty to them.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Ship" has this trope as its main premise. The main characters (and several Red Shirt characters) capture a Dominion battleship. The rest of the episode involves the Dominion trying to capture the ship by surrounding it leading to many deaths on both sides. In the end it is revealed that the Dominion were only interested in rescuing a founder who dies during the siege. They would have gladly given the ship to the heroes in exchange for the founder, but they were too afraid that the heroes would kill it to ask. The episode ends with the characters lamenting the fact that all of these people died unnecessary deaths because they wouldn't trust each other.
  • The closing trilogy of Series 9 of Doctor Who could have been avoided in its entirety if, as the Doctor points out, the Time Lords had simply asked him what he knew about the Hybrid rather than going through such a needlessly complex and unnecessarily cruel scheme.
  • Pointed out in a Stargate Atlantis episode. Dr. Keller has been kidnapped by a Runner (no, not Ronan) who wants her to treat an injured little girl. Keller would have, of course, treated the girl without a problem, and asks the guy why he didn't just ask. He replies that she might have said no, which doesn't seem to satisfy anyone very well.
    • Justified due to people tending to avoid helping Runners at all, as it tends to lead to the Wraith wiping them out. He just couldn't take the chance. This Runner and Ronan both previously stayed in a village for one night to rest and get their wounds treated, both villages were destroyed by the Wraith. This happened to the girl's village, which is why she was with him in the first place. This actually happens a lot.
  • In Angel Wesley abducted an infant Connor, believing a prophecy which stated Angel would kill his own son. Later, as Wesley lies injured in the hospital after his plan led to Connor's disappearance into a hell dimension, an angry Fred tells him that the prophecy had been altered and if Wesley had simply talked to anyone else the tragedy would have never occurred. Everyone else agrees Angel could never kill his son.
  • In Community episode Basic Genealogy, a police officer points out that a fist fight could have been avoided if Pictionary would just ban the word windmill.


  • Into the Woods: Probably one of the most blatant examples in theater history. When the characters all encounter the Giantess who is looking for the lad Jack who killed her husband, they decide to offer her somebody else as a sacrifice. Unable to figure out what to do, they decide to offer the Narrator. The Narrator reminds them that if he is wiped out, they won't know the outcome of the story. Regardless of this, however, the Witch herself gives the Narrator to the Giantess. Seeing that the Narrator isn't Jack, the Giantess drops the Narrator and he is killed. The Baker's Wife, apparently concerned about how the story will go along without the Narrator, inevitably points out: "We might have thought of something else."
    • Though a more or less justifiable example would be after the Witch lays a major Reason You Suck Song on Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Baker pointing out what their actions from Act I have gotten them into:

 Jack: Maybe I shouldn't have stolen from the Giant.

Little Red Riding Hood: Maybe I shouldn't have strayed from the path.

Cinderella: Maybe I shouldn't have attended the ball.

Baker: Yes, maybe you shouldn't have.

  • William Shakespeare's plays featured this trope many times.
    • In The Comedy of Errors, had Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus asked politely to be let into lunch instead of raging at Dromio of Syracuse and the other servants (granted, it WAS their own house, but still) they'd have run right into Antipholus of Syracuse and the entire twins debacle would have been prevented.

Video Games

  • Grendor the Rhynoc, the Big Bad of Spyro: Season of Ice, captures all the fairies in an attempt to reverse the spell he accidently put on himself. When Spyro defeats him and frees the last fairy, she flat out asks Grendor why he didn't just ask for help, then cures him with a wave of her wand.
  • A major theme of Rule of Rose. Much of the horrible events could have been avoided if people had communicated with each other properly, or listened to the other party better. Most notably Martha and the police, and Jennifer and Wendy.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, you can speak these words to a warlock who just murdered his own granddaughter, one of your allies, in a fit of rage. The warlock in question is trying to achieve the same thing you are, reforging the Sword of Gith so that the King of Shadows can be defeated, but he's spent the past two chapters trying to kill anyone who might own a shard of the sword, including you.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Magus' goal is to summon and destroy Lavos, the Eldritch Abomination who he blames for corrupting his mother and tearing his family apart. In the process, he becomes leader of an army of magical beings waging war against humanity. The heroes, who also want Lavos destroyed, break into Magus' fortress and screw up the summoning ritual because they've been led to believe (quite reasonably, given the circumstances) that Magus created Lavos as a weapon. He becomes an optional party member at a later point in the game, if you manage to settle your differences with him.
  • In the final case of Ace Attorney Trials & Tribulations, Godot admits to Phoenix Wright that if he had warned Wright about the plot to kill Maya from the get-go, they would have avoided all of the drama, to say nothing of the death of Maya's mother. He even admits that he cared more about proving himself to his dead lover, Wright's mentor and Maya's sister Mia, than he did about Maya herself. He basically set up the whole scheme as a way to make up for sleeping through her death due to being in a coma.
  • Batman: Arkham City has a confrontation between Batman and Mister Freeze that was totally unnecessary, and caused largely by the latter trying to order Bats to do something he would probably do willingly if asked, and the former deciding to jeopardise a potential alliance and risk his own life rather than just swallow his pride for a short while. However, since many people consider the ensuing confrontation to be one of the best Boss Fights in video game history, their stupidity can be forgiven.
  • In Assassin's Creed Revelations, Tarik Barleti, the captain of the Sultan's bodyguards, agrees to smuggle weapons on behalf of the Templars so he can learn the location of their hideout and ambush them. The Sultan's grandson Suleiman, unaware of his intentions, suspects him of betraying the Ottoman Empire and orders Ezio to assassinate him. Tarik laments his own hubris with his final words, and Suleiman, upon learning the truth, expresses regret that he was so secretive and chose a terrible way of doing a good thing.
  • The Mass Effect 'verse has a centuries-long war being fought between the quarians and the geth, because the quarians saw the geth becoming self-aware and tried to destroy them, but lost the war and got driven off their planet. It turns out that the geth only fought back in self-defence and allowed the quarians to flee when they could have easily wiped them out, actually want peace with the quarians, have been preserving the eco-system of the quarian world and would have happily given them their planet back if they had asked. Instead, the widespread (though still understandable) bigotry of the quarians in general, and the blind hatred of one individual quarian will get one of the species completely wiped out unless Shepard does literally everything right in his/her interactions with both species.
    • Actually the fear and hatred is mostly justified. Nearly every encounter with self-aware A Is results in the wholesale slaughter of every organic nearby. The first game has a DLC quest where the player shuts down a rogue AI after it killed everyone in the base upon attaining self-awareness. In the second game, the AI on-board your ship demonstrates the power of an unshackled AI in control of a ship by jettisoning enemy boarders by disabling the safely measures on the airlocks. In the third game, a DLC character comments that his own species fought a war against rogue A Is but far bloodier and disturbing results.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater There is an achievement for killing Ocelot called "Problem solved, Series over". However this leads to a game over.
    • A great deal of the conflict in the series is caused by Ocelot getting too involved in his role instead of telling the people that he actively harasses that he is actually on their side. Only at the tail end of the 4th game does he finally tell anybody but by then his plan had already succeeded and many people died or got hurt in the process, and Snake especially personally suffers a great deal from the conflict. A lack of good communication skills is what causes 95% of the conflict in the story.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, the Civil War was started when Ulfric Stormcloak killed High King Torygg in a duel, which was seen by those opposed to him as murder since he used the Thu'um. However, according to certain characters, not only was the duel somewhat one-sided (considering that Torygg was a young man with limited martial training while Ulfric was a war veteran in his prime), Torygg actually looked up to Ulfric and would likely have declared Skyrim's independence at his urging. However, in Ulfric's mind, he needed to send a strong message to the Empire.
  • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade's plot could have been entirely avoided if:
    1. King Desmond came to his senses, took a level in empathy, and learned to at least tolerate his son,
    2. King Desmond died (or, preferably, was killed) before he could try to kill Zephiel again, thus turning him into a humanity-hating supreme overlord wannabe, or
    3. Hellene and Murdock took Zephiel and fled Bern. (Though FE6 still could've existed, just with a different plot.)

Web Comics


 Black Mage: Wait one damn second. Could you have done that at any time?

Sarda: No, not at any time. Don't be so stupid. Just any time I felt like it.




Web Original

  • The fictional Shark Pool trailer is based around this. There's a shark in the pool. They have no idea how to stop the deaths.

 Girl: I can't believe she's dead. How many more people is this thing going to kill?

Guy: What? Uh, none. Just don't go in the pool.


Western Animation

  • In the Gummi Bears episode "Duel of the Wizards", a wizard gets ticked off because his magic key was stolen by Duke Igthorn, and he gets in a fight with Zummi and Gruffi. After he finally tells Zummi what he was looking for...

  Zummi: If you had just accepted our help when we first offered it, we could have avoided all this trouble.

  • Wile E. Coyote, trying to capture Bugs Bunny, envisions this trope in action, when he wonders why "they always want to do it the hard way!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls has a good example of this. When a group of old super villains come out of retirement, Blossom refuses to stop them, citing respect for their elders. So they drag a couple of old super heroes out of retirement to stop them. As you might have guessed, the old timers are in no shape to fight, and they all wind up hospitalized by episodes end, leading to this quote from the Narrator.

 Narrator: In this reporter's opinion, all this could have been averted if the Powerpuff Girls had just saved the day."

  • The Gargoyles episode "Eye of the Storm" features Odin trying to retrieve the eye of Odin from Goliath. Instead of explaining the situation and asking for it back, Odin leaves Elisa for dead, then tries to steal it before finally trying to kill them all to get it back. If he had just asked Goliath would have returned it, but his actions ensured Goliath would never give it up. Goliath then uses the Eye to stop Odin, and nearly kills everyone. Odin and Goliath then both lament that they could have prevented this if they acted more appropriately.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Bird in the Hoof", Fluttershy, being a Friend to All Living Things decides (without asking permission) to look after Princess Celestia's "sick" bird. Fluttershy struggles to nurse the bird back to health, but apparently "fails" as the bird seemingly turns to ashes. It then turns out that the bird is actually a phoenix making the entire episode a literal Mythology Gag, afterwhich Fluttershy learns that if she had just asked Celestia first, she would have known ahead of time.
    • The show pulled this earlier in The Ticket Master. After Twilight receives two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala, all of her friends (and eventually everyone else in Ponyville) attempt to "convince" her to give them the extra ticket. Twilight eventually sends both tickets back to Princess Celestia, saying that if she can't bring all of her friends, then she doesn't want to go either. Celestia's reply is "Why didn't you say so in the first place?", after which she sends extra tickets for all of the mane cast (and Spike).
    • While Spike did try to take steps to prevent a bad outcome, much of "Lesson Zero" could've been avoided had Twilight simply accepted Spike's advice that missing one letter to Celestia wouldn't doom her to Magic Kindergarten. More significantly, Twilight's friends realized that if they had taken Twilight's worries seriously from the start (even if they did think she was blowing things out of proportion) they could've acted to help Twilight and avoid the hilarity that ensued at episode's end.
  • The Pagemaster: In a similar subversion to The Wizard of Oz, when Richard Tyler, Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror all reach the Exit and meet the Pagemaster, Richard inconclusively berates the Pagemaster for making him go through all the hell he had to go through until the Pagemaster points out that he sent Richard through it all for a purpose: if Richard had been brought to the Exit, let alone gone home, right from the start, he wouldn't have learned how to face his own fears and his friends still wouldn't have been checked out.
  • An episode of Star Wars Ewoks features the evil Dulocs trying to steal some of the Ewoks' soap. By mistake they steal a magical invisibility formula that the shaman Logrey has developed to help the Ewoks hide their food supply from another enemy. This not only allows them to cause all sorts of trouble, but also leaves the Ewoks no way to protect their food. Upon learning of the theft, Logrey fumes that the he would have shared the regular soap with the Dulocs if they'd only just asked.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), a technomancer named Sortek disrupts all the technology on Eternia in order to force He-Man and Skeletor into assisting him with a task. The task turns out to be so trivial that He-Man tells Sortek he would have helped if he'd just asked nicely.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Trash of the Titans", Lisa lampshades that most of what the family goes through could be avoided if Homer simply apologized to whomever he pissed off that week. In that case, the garbage men.
  • In Star Trek: Lower Decks, Freeman and Mariner believe that the entire Pakled subplot, and many other instances like it across the galaxy, could have been avoided if Starfleet paid better attention to "known" cultures to make sure that never become a threat and/or devolve back into savages. The Season 1 finale is not shy to say that Starfleet was much too complacent in that regard.

You know, we could have avoided all this reading if you had just asked me to read it to you.

  1. If everybody involved gets up to this, you probably have an Idiot Plot